December 22... two months ago I didn't expect this to be the date of my next blog post. Nor did I expect to be reflecting on the home I've made in Northfield, and the world I'm about to encounter in Ghana. One year ago I had no idea that I'd be this mangled AND strong today. I had no idea that some of my relationships could grow even deeper; I barely knew seven people that I now hold in the warmest part of my heart; and I didn't know that I'd fall, in a strange way, for a not-so-strange stranger. But to situate this date in time... 5 years ago, when me and someone had our first kiss, I had no idea that I would become who I am now. And, perhaps more importantly, 5 years from now, I think I'll know that this time of my life was extremely important, but also that I was--in fact--very young.
At 7am this morning, I woke to a Christmas carol on my alarm clock. It took me a few moments to remember that I didn't have to get up for class, to finish a paper, or take an exam, but I did have to wake up to start moving out of my room. This semester I had a single in the honor house I live in, and next semester I'll be living in a different (double) room with my dear friend who's abroad right now.
Even though all I had to do was move all of my belongings roughly 12 feet across the second story of the house, and drive one hour back to my hometown... somehow it took 13 hours. Thinking about it more subjectively though, I think it's fitting that it took me so long to make this move.
I've been in Northfield, full time, since August 26th, 2009 and it has become 'home' in a way I never expected it would. I have street names memorized and know my favorite houses to walk by. I know what night sounds like during every season. I can guess peoples' social position in town in just a few moments (Olaf or Carleton student, grew up in town, professor, etc.). And several bartenders and alcohol vendors in town recognize me, and glance at my ID as a formality. More important than all this though, is that I feel at home here. Yet I recognize the terminal nature of this 'home,' and I see January as my first taste of separation from what this place has become for me.
Furthermore, this semester has been a challenging storm of different types of questions--conceptual, personal, academic, and romantic--and moving into this room is not a way to shed the past turbulent months, but it is a way to re-make my home. (Additionally, since I absolutely hate moving, I feel ridiculously accomplished for having successfully completed that task.) It is a physical change which helps to end one chapter, and begin a new one.
I know it's dangerous to build things up too much in advance, but anyone who's ever been to Ghana/or a developing country is telling me that it will change my life. I'm inclined to believe them. More than that, I feel that my internship in Ghana--I'll be writing for a free-trade, non-profit called Global Mamas, some of my projects will include writing descriptions of merchandise, updating the website, writing a quarterly update and an annual update, and interviewing the people involved with the org--will be one of the first times when my vocational interests and passion for social justice will be aligned with what I am actually doing. You see, Global Mamas is a microfinance operation, so women can take out small loans from this org and build their own small businesses making dresses, or soaps, or other hand-crafted items. This allows these women to work towards economic independence and thus, possibly improves the quality of their lives while giving them the opportunity to help themselves. I am so honored and thrilled to be a part of these efforts, because I believe that microfinance is a powerful method of empowerment and an effective vehicle for social change.
So here I am, in the present, looking back at 201o noting how much I have changed, and looking ahead at the upcoming 6 weeks and knowing that my life will change.
*deep breath and sigh* Here I go!
p.s. I know that I never go it alone and I'm acknowledging that here. What's more is that I'm shocked by the immense blessings I've received, and the gracefulness of my Creator.