I have less than three weeks left in Honduras, and I'm struggling to gather my thoughts. There are a lot to gather. I've seen, heard, and learned so much over the last three months that I can hardly begin to make sense of it all. I want to write all the deep thoughts I have, but I'm not ready to put them into words.
I expected to come back from Honduras a changed person. I think I was hoping that the change would be obvious, dramatic, and exciting. I didn't expect to be the same person, weighed down by a few more thoughts, struggling with a few more convictions. Turns out, it's not that easy to change.
I can see the next few months play out like a movie. I come home passionate about helping the poor and marginalized who I've met, or outraged at the injustices I feel I understand. I come out too strong against certain things. I'm a little too ignorant. A little too self-righteous.
I can see over time, how the temptation of comfort will creep up. Eating sustainably is way too hard. Taking the bus is inconvenient. I would give, only I need this money for something else. And the memories fade a little. Passions are muted. Everything goes back to the way it was.
Dear Lord, let it not be so.
Here in Honduras, justice is right in my face. We spend hours every day learning about what it means to eat justly, to shop justly, to care for the environment and elect good leaders. We're excited about it. We're seeing things happen right in front of our eyes. It's real.
When I go back to Michigan, I'm going to have to look for it. I'm going to have to work to get to the same level of passion. I'm not going to have professors guiding my thought processes or friends studying the exact same things. It's going to be a different sort of real. Who I am isn't going to be handed to me: I'm going to have to decide.
Right now, I'm still in the middle of what's been the most interesting and intense four months of my life. But in three weeks, that will be over. If I'm realistic about it, I know that all I'm experiencing now isn't half as important as what I do with these experiences next month, next year, and for the rest of my life.
Studying abroad will change your life. But it's not a passive thing. You don't let Honduras happen to you, you jump in and engage the culture. You ask questions. You start to form those deep thoughts.
The thing about study abroad is that it ends. But the changes don't have to. What I want to start asking now is how to keep these things real. To transfer my Honduran real life to my Michigan one. How to remember the things that are important even in a complete change of scenery.
So I don't have any deep thoughts now. I think it's going to be a while before I can form experiences into opinions and opinions into a transformed life. It's not going to happen automatically. But I'm determined to make the effort.