It seems that it has been a full 5 months since I last updated this thing. I'm writing in the wee hours of December 26th, after a wonderful Christmas at home with the entire family (which won't be the case next year unfortunately), and directly after destroying the rest of the family in a game of Settlers of Catan (I got them hooked on a board game, wonderful for developing that competitive family spirit!). So last time I wrote it seems that I had just visited the Killing Fields of Cambodia, a rather sobering experience. I guess this post is simply an update from where I left off and a bit of a recapping of the year.
And 5 months has brought me a long way from there: to the temples of Angkor Wat the very next day, to Burma for an afternoon, to the top of a mountain in Hong Kong, and back home to Chapel Hill, through my third semester at UNC, into a new minor (Social Entrepreneurship), through another amazing concert with Psalm 100, and into the beginnings of a CD project. I have seen a lot of relationships really develop in this time, and have also been disappointed with my ability to keep in touch with many of my old friends. I have read a number of books (Brothers Karamazov, The Four Loves, some Rumi...) and have a ton more on my "to read / in the middle of" list (The Politics of Jesus, The Cost of Discipleship, and Hold the Enlightenment).
This semester: I've spent many nights up late drinking coffee and talking, but not as many as I would like. I've spent many nights up late studying Arabic before that next quiz, a few more than I would like, but it should pay off in Amman. I've spent way too many hours at the pool lifeguarding instead of sitting in the arboretum with a book or a friend, and I hope to correct that in the spring.
This year: I have been to 7 countries in Southeast Asia thanks to the Carolina Southeast Asia Summer program, I have learned a lot about the way that I react to people who are different from myself in both positive and negative ways, I have had the amazing opportunity to learn a ton from a family of Burmese refugees that I tutor.
Next year: I hope to be more intentional with those that are close to me (even if the distance between us is rather large), I plan to climb glacier mountains in Mexico with my brother, Steven, and to study abroad for the summer and fall in Amman, Jordan. While there, I will also do an internship with the group Questscope, hone my Arabic skills, and focus my studies on the Palestinian/Iraqi refugee problem (!إن شاء الله). I also hope to slow down a bit and spend less time being worried about my achievements and more time investing in the people around me (if you haven't noticed that's one of the lessons I have been learning this year).
I could go on for a while. I like to think I learned a lot this year. However, it's late and this is already getting long. More to come, I've been thinking a lot recently and I'll try to get up a more thought provoking post in the next week (gotta get regular again...). I hope everyone is having a wonderful break! I can't wait to catch up with some SB2W people next week and all my UNC friends in January. Just in time for my birthday! Get excited, it's gonna be an exhilarating spring!
(enjoy the dread-mullet!)