And just like it began – a whirlwind of layovers, stale airplane coffee, and unamused TSA agents – my most excellent adventure has ended. I am now stateside with sugarless American coffee and people who speak English. The skies are powerline-free and the air smells like freshly-cut grass rather than a sauna full of garbage.
But I miss Thailand already.
I was incredibly lucky to spend my last two weeks abroad with my mom. We did all the crazy, wonderful things I didn’t want to try alone: riding elephants (and in style – see the return of the all-denim outfit below), hitting the beaches in southern Thailand, and visiting the infamous rooftop bar from the Hangover 2 on the 64th floor of a Bangkok skyscraper. We laughed a lot about the oddities of travel, such as the prevalent desire among Karen elephant trainers to tickle my feet. And we ate ridiculously good food.
I left the United States in May with my heart very much set on school in California, home in Minnesota, and my language-study country of Russia. I didn’t imagine there was room for anywhere else. But now, as I think of the frenetic energy of Thailand’s cities and the tranquility of the countryside, the ethnic people of Burma and vibrant culture on the border, my desire is to return, and soon. I learned more about myself and the situation in Burma than I thought possible in a summer’s time.
So what’s next? I hope to bring my experiences and observations from my internship into my education at Claremont McKenna. Whether this will take the form of hosting documentary screenings and forums on Burma or simply applying my new knowledge in the classroom, I’m so excited to enter this school year with an awakened perspective on human rights.
I labored through some of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time for an English course this spring. The novel clocks in at over 4,000 pages, so I skimmed over more than I should have, but I did cling to this quote in the sea of pages: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
It’s never glamorous or easy to return from an amazing experience to reality. Yet being able to view my education and everyday life with “new eyes” is invaluable. So thank you to CMC’s Center for Human Rights Leadership, Free Burma Rangers, and my blog readers for your support. It’s been an incredible summer.