"...the way you get meaning into your life is to
devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you,
and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."
"The truth is, you don't get satisfaction from
those things. You know what really gives you satisfaction? ...Offering others
what you have to give."
"Once you start running, it's hard to slow
yourself down. Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little
community of those you love and who love you."
"I believe in being fully present."
Being fully present is advice that has been repeated to us in the Beyond Borders program again, and again, and again. We have centred class discussions around this ideal as we worked through Albert Camus' The Plague, have gained advice from past participants as they shared their experiences with us, and have heard this at the seminars we attended last fall. It embraces the entire experience we will be embarking on as a whole: the good, the bad, and the ugly too.
As we settle into our placements, we are going to enter entirely new communities and will have to find a way to become integrated into them. We'll have to leave the communities and support networks that we have built over the years here at home, and attempt to forge new connections with our host families and the people we will be working with daily. The quotes from Tuesdays With Morrie highlight relationships, communities, connections. These things will be oh so valuable this summer as we head overseas!
Our placements are not necessarily going to be perfect experiences. We will be out of our natural 'element,' that is the point of the program. We will be stretched beyond our limits, and likely grow in ways that we never expected. We are diving into unfamiliar countries, cultures, and atmospheres - I'm not going to lie, I'm overwhelmed by all of these things. I've wondered about the host family that I will be living with, the language that I am struggling to learn, and what food I will be eating. I've wondered about the children that I will probably become very attached to, and how will I find my way around Ternopil (especially if I am unable to clearly communicate)? ...These are only a few examples of the 'what ifs?' floating around my head, and I'm scared. However, I'm also incredibly excited (and thankful) to have this opportunity, and I really do hope to make the most of the whole experience... through the ups and downs of it all.
In our first class this term, Joanne (our professor) reassured us. Frustration is a great thing, because through frustration, you really learn. If you are not frustrated, you are not learning - you already know what you are doing. You are comfortable. When frustrated, you are growing, stretching, learning. And that is kind of exciting...