Freedom Writer

“I have received full payment and even more.” — Philippians 4:18

Writing will always be my first love. It is my comfort, my joy, my pastime, and ultimately, my escape. It is there for me in my happiest, saddest, most exhilarating, and most troublesome moments. It lets me play with words on a page–the best game to play when I am itching to figure things out. It holds a special place in my heart. It is my voice. It is how I express myself. It is how I share my story. It is who I am.

I write because the days are long, but the years are short–because experiences and moments fly by, blurring when they are sent hurdling to the past. It seems like ages ago when I was laying in my bed in the heat of a Southern Californian summer, imagining what this year would have in store for me. It seems like ages ago when I was getting increasingly choked up to meet my fellow Fellows in the Redwoods as my plane was suffering a mechanical failure. It seems like ages ago when I was learning about culture shock, diversity, and mindfulness at Stanford, when I was moved to tears watching Freedom Writers at teacher training in Quito, even when I began my first day teaching in Guano. Life moves fast, and it is sometimes hard to keep up. I write to treasure my memories and special thoughts, grasping on to them, never letting them escape. I write to fall in love with life’s moments. I write because before I know it, I will be disembarking a plane at LAX where my journey started, wondering if I really just came back from living in Ecuador for the past year. I write to remember that the boy who was just yearning for an adventure in life has done far more than what he ever thought was possible.

I write to set goals for myself and to keep myself accountable for them. I reiterate my goals to myself so I have something to work towards everyday, whether it is saying “yes” more oftengetting over my fearsletting gopracticing mindfulness, or becoming more empathetic. I write so that no matter how bad a day may be, I can reflect on my written goals and realize that I came to Ecuador because it would be challenging and would provide an everyday opportunity to learn from the smallest moments. I write to keep myself focused through difficult times, to figure things out, and to become a more confident individual. I write to become a better writer and a more lucid thinker. I write to get a sense of who I want to become. I write to give myself a purpose in life. I write to connect the dots between the person I was and the person I am. I write so that ten years later, when I have changed as a person, I can see where it all began.

I write to share my story–to document my experiences for anyone interested in this journey I have undertaken. I write to give my perspective on the things I see and learn. I write so that later on in life, I can look back on all this culture shock I have faced during my first few weeks in Ecuador, and laugh at myself. I write so when I feel the need to unplug from communication with my family and friends, they can still get a taste of my life and understand my transformation as a person when I return. I write to give my fellow Fellows reassurance, whether we’re in Senegal or Brazil, or across Ecuador in Pichincha, Imbabura, Napo, Chimbarazo (Chimburrs! ChimburrsAchachai…our team cheer reiterates the fact that we’re constantly cold), Cuenca, or the Cloud Forest. We are all going through this long and seemingly isolating community immersion experience together and will only grow from it. I write so the future 2015, 2016, or 2018 Fellow interested in taking on an adventure like this doesn’t think twice, but quite simply goes for it. I write so I can reach others, allowing them to live vicariously through my experiences. I write to make people happy. I write hoping I can make a difference in someone else’s life. I write to inspire. I write for you, so whether or not you intended to read my words, or randomly stumbled upon my page, thank you for reading my blog posts and being a part of my journey. It means the world to me.