Celine, a close friend of mine here at site who works as a volunteer at Lalmba Health Clinic, will be leaving in a couple of days and she’ll start the next part of her adult life in Seattle, Washington. Part of me is really happy for her but on the other hand, I’m saddened. Weeks leading to her departure, I started thinking of the connections that I’ve formed throughout my life, both good and bad and how those connections have shaped me. It’s funny – as introverted as I can be, I crave human intimacy and connections. Human intimacy and connections are pivotal to the survival of mankind. We are social creatures meant to have meaningful conversations and when we’re lucky, we find people who shape our lives both in a positive and negative way.
When I was a young girl, I saw myself as the weird child. Looking back at the little city I was born in Honduras, a place with limited access to education and opportunity, I am ashamed to admit that I hated where I came from at one point in my life. When I came to the States at eight years old, all I wanted was to fit in, but life doesn’t go according to plan. I was in a whole different world with different cultures and religions, and I saw myself as someone who came from nothing. I was ashamed that I could speak two languages while all my friends could speak one. I was the alien. I was embarrassed of my brown hair and slight tan, while most of my peers had blonde hair and blue eyes. I was different. As I grow older and wiser, I am proud to say that matured and grew out of my childishness. Thankfully, I learned to appreciate the difference in myself and therefore learned to appreciate the difference of others. The connections I formed along the way were crucial to forming who I am now. We all have a life story and we all want to feel loved and appreciated. The individual triumphs and challenges that we all face make us unique and worth getting to know.
I want to celebrate the people who have shaped me along the way because I wouldn’t be who I am without them. Cheers to those who called me emotional. Cheers to the ex-boyfriend who told me I wasn’t worth fighting for. Cheers to the individuals who talked behind my back. Cheers to all those who said one thing, yet did another. You gave me scars but you did something even better: You made me stronger. But most importantly, I raise my glass to the people who have touched me in all unique ways. To the special college roommates that both made my year and challenged me, cheers to the friends who have never left my side when sometimes I didn’t deserve their friendship, to the amazing boyfriend who is making long-distance work, to the family who supported my decision and encouraged me to push for service in Africa because they knew that it was what I wanted, to the people in Ethiopia who have shown me kindness at my weakest moments, and for all the people who have picked me up when I need a little reminder of just how wonderful life can really be. You helped heal my scars. You made me stronger.
Finally, cheers to Celine and to a wonderful journey. Thanks for the many binge watching nights of television shows, delicious dinners and good conversations. Thanks for all the many vent sessions as they were my saving grace. The memories we shared will stay with me. May she find success, happiness and love in whatever comes next.