Maybe by reading the title, you thought this would be a negative post. It's not going to be.
I remember learning about how exchange would be the hardest during the holidays. And I never really realized how hard it would be until it happened. I have remained a trooper through it all, but that's not to say that I have cried.
Because I have. A lot.
By choosing youth exchange, I decided to swap my normal Geno-family Christmas for a Peruvian one. I would experience it on my own, without my natural family, without my normal traditions, and I would do it way outside of my comfort zone. I was excited to learn how to celebrate Christmas in another country. I was excited to move to another country and have all my new experiences. I was and still am excited for everything that IS youth exchange. But it's not easy and sometimes I would prefer to throw in the towel. I've ridden a fine line of deciding to go home because I just wanted a big hug from my loved ones.
In other words, exchange stole my normal Christmas and gave me a Spanish-speaking one instead.
It's Christmas Eve, I'm having a slumber party with my best friend, and as I write this, I'm crying. I'm crying out of joy for the loving families that have taken me in this year, I'm crying because I miss my family, I'm crying because this year has come to an end and I am crying because an exciting future lies ahead of me. It's a mix of beautiful emotions and this bawl fest has come right on time.
I wanted to take the time to thank everyone who has helped me get where I am now.
First, my grandma. My beautiful, loving, supportive grandmother. She wasn't on board initially with the whole idea of me leaving for a year, but she was able to be strong and let go for just 10 months to allow me to enrich my future. I continue to be so grateful to her. My grandmother is my best friend.
Second, I'd like to thank my paternal grandparents for supporting me in this journey and funding part of this experience.
Third, I'd like to thank my home and host Rotary districts, 6690 and 4455, for choosing me to represent my country and allowing me to have such an enriching experience in Peru. Thank you, 6690, for providing me with 10 months of training and plenty of opportunities to make new friends. Thank you to 4455 for taking me in late and hosting me in a beautiful country.
Fourth, I would like to thank my friends, old and new, for not forgetting I exist even though I am in another time zone/country/continent/hemisphere. Thank you to all the friends I have made on exchange, inbounds and Peruvians, for being so genuinely awesome. I've learned a lot about myself because of you and I hope our friendships last a life time.
Tambien quiero agradecer a mi madre acogida. Mami, me aceptaste en tu casa, sin mucho tiempo a preparar y cada dia quiero que sabes que estoy agradecida por eso. Me tratas como tu hija y me siento mas como familia que una intercambista. A veces, tengo un mal día, pero yo sé que siempre puedo hablar contigo y que vas a tratar a entenderme. Gracias por todo lo que me has hecho. Te quiero mucho y espero que un dia, me visites.
and Lastly, I would love to thank God for blessing me everyday. I've prayed for an experience like this and you blessed me with one. Thank you.
That's my soap box for today. I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Also, shout out to Pappo! Happy Birthday! You were born on Christmas Eve and we've been without for 5 years now, but I think of you everyday and now you're looking out for me.
To a new year of memories, friendships, learning, and love...