The Best is Yet to Come

I was so excited to attend my first Harvard-Yale weekend since graduation. Ghana did not make it very conducive to going back my first year as an alum, and I had now not seen my college friends (minus about two) in about a year and a half. I kept telling my students all week how excited I was to finally have a vacation and to see so many loved ones in one place for my birthday. And it could not have been a more wonderful weekend.

What made the weekend so special to me were the people who went out of their way to see me, to make sure that they spent time with me not only for my birthday, but because they valued me as an individual worth putting in the time to see. From brisket dinners in Brooklyn with Scott to epic sangria toasting birthday dinners in Inman Square, I felt the love poured over me. My favorite moment was at dinner when my 9 dinner guests went around and made toasts about me. It’s not my favorite moment in the narcissistic sense that I loved hearing people talk about me, but it was a great reflection piece on why it was that people would be willing to dedicate so much time to making sure I had a wonderful weekend. One of the elements of the toasts that came up repeatedly was my ability to stay in touch with people even though I’m often so far away. It made me think back on this past year and all my reflections on trying to perfect the art of ‘being there’ when I’m hardly ever able to actually physically be there. I guess the concentration on that is paying off. And as we toasted one final glass of sangria, I could not help but look around and think how extremely blessed I have been during this 23rd year of life. I had accomplished everything that I had wanted to do on my list last birthday except have something published. And I’m not even worried because looking around that room full of friends who have helped me through every possible high patch and low patch, there was no doubt in my mind that for me, the best is yet to come.

Here is my look back and look forward in 24 ways:

3 Things I Accomplished During the Last Year

1. Successfully implemented my peace education program at the pilot school Edbek Academy in Ghana

2. Passed my certification tests for my temporary education instructor license in Florida

3. Helped my summer school students in Tulsa, OK grow several levels in writing over 5 weeks

7 Things I Did or Places I Went During the Last Year

1. Got lost for 15 hours on trains in Bulgaria with Caitlin

2. Celebrated Christmas in beautiful Istanbul with Caitlin

3. Sampled fruit wines in the Greek mountain town, Sirince with Caitlin

4. Rang in the New Year with Mom, Dad, and Scott at Le Casino in Monaco after lounging on the Mediterranean

5. Had an epic adventure all over Ethiopia for 11 days with Tristen

6. Took in the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland with Mom, Dad, and Scott

7. Moved to palm-tree, sunshine filled Miami Beach, Florida

5 Things I Want to Accomplish Before 25

1. See a growth of 2 reading levels in each of my students

2. Help my brother expand the start-up

3. Have something published or performed that I have written

4. Research and make proposals for greater access to mental health resources for corps members (with the help of my good friend Aley)

5. Instill in my students a lasting sense of work ethic and good habits, meaning hard work always pays off in the end

5 Things I Want to Do or Places I Want to Go Before 25

1. Spend time this summer at home in Indiana

2. Travel to 2 new countries

3. Spent part of my summer in San Francisco

4. Finish writing two scripts

5. Visit most of the major tourist sites in South Florida

4 Things I Learned This Past Year

1. I should always follow my gut when I think something is a serious matter, even if others do not believe it is

2. The best friends are those who are always ready with a listening ear

3. Holding students to consistent and daily high expectations is a really tough job

4. Transformational change for students takes a lot of time, patience, and eternal optimism

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