Oooh Baby baby it’s a wild world.

Oooh baby baby it’s a wild world.

This famous Cat Stephens song, Wild World, unofficially became the GCY founding class theme song the other day after Marguerite requested it a million times over on every van ride. I don’t think any of us have been able to get it out of our heads yet. Seriously everyone keeps singing it and if I didn’t like the song a lot, it would have gotten really old by now.

But that’s not the case because as I’ve gotten to know the lyrics very intimately, it turns out to be one of the most appropriate theme songs Marguerite could have possibly chosen for this momentous occasion. Completely at random, I might add. Here goes a play-by-play explanation of how deeply this song resonates with what I am experiencing:

“But if you want to leave, take good care. I hope you meet a lot of nice friends out there.” I almost cried this morning when someone sang that line as the Senegal group pulled out of IONS at a grand 330 AM. The immediate meld of the group was so natural, it made our goodbyes that much more meaningful, as we said goodbye to our friends at an early 330 AM.

Not one of us got a full night’s sleep beforehand and we are all currently running on the adrenaline of the experience. After we finished packing, some of us at 9, some of us at 2:30 (Victoria didn’t even start until 1:40), we then spent the rest of the time writing personalized notes for the other fellows to open after they got on the plane, reluctantly awaiting the departure of the Senegal team in a mere few hours. I personally got an hour and a half of sleep after our friends departed for the airport, not even bothering to take my shoes off.

This all leaves me nervous and excited to meet all the “nice” new friends and connections I will make in Guatemala over the next seven months and am excited to see how my perceptions are shaped by the bonds I will form. I can’t wait to be received into the local community and start forming connections with my host family!

*** Breaking news update*** As you now know, I have been writing this post from the cushy Continental 737 complete with direct TV and free headphones. Unfortunately our flight was delayed and we arrived in Houston at 6:40 for a 7:15 flight on the opposite side of the airport. Fortunately they kindly provided us a golf-cart ride to the terminal, but unfortunately there was only room for 4 on the cart and Marguerite and I had to run behind the cart in order to make our flight in time. So much for our plan to make a last stop at McDonalds before we move into our rural homestays. Although, word on the street is that gross American fast food might be more common than I would have expected.

I am now safely on the 7:15 flight to Guatemala City, which I believe was the last one of the day but I am not positive. Laura and I are next to each other, watching our final movie before we head off to our Global Citizen Year. How exciting! Back to my original story.

“But if you want to leave, take good care, I hope you have a lot of nice things to wear.” Well, for the select few of you who heard about my experience in the airport this morning, how could this line NOT describe it perfectly? The slight sarcastic tone pretty much encompasses the embarrassment I went through as I first weighed my enormous bag in at 15 lbs over the 50lb weight limit. For many of you who have traveled with me before I’m sure this comes as no surprise. I pretty much have a reputation for over packing which seems to follow me around. So essentially I brought too much stuff and had to stuff 1/5th of the weight of my bag into my carry-on and the group bag. Already I was the only one who had a second carry-on suitcase, and completely doubled the weight of one of the other Fellow’s stuff, weighing in at a grand total of 85lbs… Maybe one of my grounding questions for the year needs to be how in tarnation I can pack less stuff when I travel.

I then had my bag searched in the airport because I forgot to take a bottle of prescription medication out of my carry-on before going through security. I really created a spectacle out of myself this morning, but at least I have a lot of nice things to wear, as Cat Stephens so kindly puts it. Of course, he then goes on to say that “a lot of nice things go bad out there” but I think we’ll stick to the lyrics for their analysis of the situation, not their forecasts.

Oooh baby baby it’s a wild world, it’s hard to get by. As I reflected on our experience at the US Training Institute at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) on the plane into Houston, I had a similar realization as the astronaught who founded IONS. One of the stunningly beautiful effects of being in orbit is that political and geographical associations dissolve immediately, and many astronauts return with the glaring realization that we are all in this together on one earth. As I was staring out the window trying to decide if we were over Nevada or Texas, I had the bizarre feeling that there really was no difference between the two at all. That Nevada was entirely indistinguishable from Texas and therefore it mattered very little which state I was in. It makes all this fighting and conflict, from the healthcare debate in America to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seem insignificant and petty. It makes me imagine a world where all nationalities, religious affiliations, and languages can stand unified in cooperation. The only thing keeping us apart is our preconceptions of our differences. From above, the differences are entirely indistinguishable.

Hopefully during my Global Citizen Year I can make an impression which helps both my home community and my host community realize our human similarities and make a small contribution towards human solidarity.

Ooh Baby baby it’s a wild world, and its hard to get by.

Ohh Baby baby it’s a wild world, and I’ll always remember you. This is perhaps the line which resonates with me the most as I embark for my experience in Guatemala. The lasting relationships which I have developed over the last eighteen years in all my home communities, as well as the bonds formed between the GCY Founding Community during the US Training Institute will be in my mind the entire time I am away and will serve as a constant source of inspiration and support as I move into the challenging situations I will face in the coming months. Knowing that my people are keeping me in their thoughts will help to ground me when I am struggling and encourage me when I am feeling success. I greatly look forward to hearing from everyone soon!

Love, Michael

P.S. Incoming calls to Guatemala cellphones are free, so call me anytime if you’d like, but keep in mind the time difference! If you want to call, get my number from my mom or I will be posting it to my facebook.