Dear family,

Dear Mom, Dad, Matt, and family,

These last few days, weeks, and months of my time at home have really brought out the depth of our familial bonds and have served to emphasize the significance the last eighteen years has had on my life. The frantic packing escapade managed to distract me from some of the more profound and emotional realizations taking place at the moment.

The most significant of which dawned on me while I was sitting on a fallen log in a captivating oak grove in Petaluma California with the ten other fellows as we were beginning to discuss our plans for the upcoming year. This is the moment when it really set in that the relationships in my life will never again be the same as I move into this new and exciting chapter of my life. I guess my delayed realization of this obvious fact came out of naïve confusion on my part. I mistakenly related leaving home with going to college and in the logical continuation I failed to realize that my “moment” of leaving home would come when I left for Global Citizen Year. I had unconsciously connected this moment to leaving for college and naturally I completely missed the boat so to speak.

And so it was that as the five of us sat in the Panoramio coffee shop in Terminal C of the RDU airport this morning, I was caught off guard by a sudden wave of reminiscent feelings. As we sat laughing and joking as a family one last time, I started to reflect fondly on the memories of the last fifteen years.

I remember staying with Annette waiting for Matthew to come home from the hospital. He was still Matthew at this point so I can still call him that in public. I remember the first time I had to deal with loss when our dog Sundance died when I was really little, the time we went fishing with Papa and I don’t even remember if we caught any red drum or not. I fondly remember all the many days spent at both the lake house and the mountain house with grandparents and lots of extended family. These are the kinds of lasting memories that have shaped me into the person I am today and will continue to fuel my drive to be who I am in the future and for that I am truly grateful.

All of these experiences and the rest of them add up to create a childhood full of fond memories and ever since I waved goodbye for the final time from the other side of the TSA checkpoint this morning, my unconscious mind has been a continuous reel of flashbacks from my childhood experience.

As I began to think about the next year and all the questions and uncertainties that I have at this point, I began to overlay them with my constant stream of recollections and began to realize the shear appreciation for the depth of the relationships that I am so blessed to have. As I was showing the other fellows on the plane the photo album you helped me put together last night, I realized how much I rely on those relationships as a constant source of guidance as I face the challenges I am presented with.

Thinking forward about my home stay experience, I really anticipate reaching out to my home stay family to create new bonds modeled on the bonds I will continue to maintain at home. I look forward to the new and exciting things I will learn about myself as I begin to gather “my people” around me in Guatemala as I have done so affectionately over the last 18 years at home.

Already I am inspired by the new relationships we are forging and have been forging with the GCY founding community over the summer and the lifetime community which we will be growing over the next week. I truly appreciate the strong relationships I have developed with my family and friends and I will consider myself quite fortunate if I am able to even closely rival the tight bonds that I will continue to cherish for the rest of my life. For this, all this, I am thankful. And most of all this is just the begining of a very rich future!

I love you all!