"La vida es un libro del que, quien no ha visto más que su patria, no ha leído más que una página."
- Filippo Pananti
(Life is a book; those who have not seen more than their homeland have not read more than a page.)
Unpacked bags littered the floor. Clothing and toiletries were scattered across a couch. Uncertainty and excitement buzzed over this scene in my living room while my mind rattled anxiously.
This was the state in which I left my house this evening to supposedly “just say goodbye to one friend before you go.” As it turned out, a whole surprise party awaited me.
Needless to say I was VERY surprised. And moved. And grateful. Reality finally sunk in that these were the people, the memories, and the life I would be leaving behind. As a Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) fellow, I will be volunteering for an international non-profit called Endeavor in Mexico City to help support and promote high-impact entrepreneurship in the city. The months of applying, deciding to accept the offer, and planning to move to Mexico for a year finally culminated in a rush of goodbye hugs and a plane leaving in two days. And, yes, I cried. But I also couldn’t stop smiling.
This unexpected send-off celebration reminded me of some important things that I had momentarily forgotten in the rush of preparation:
1. My family and friends will remain a source of support and encouragement, even from across the border.
2. I am ready. I am eager for this new chapter of my life and the challenges and successes it will bring.
3. Working for a year in Mexico is a big step, but it is one that I chose in order to continue learning how to contribute to this world as a global citizen.
4. Despite moving to a country which (in my opinion) has some of the best cuisine on earth, the party’s Chipotle catering reminded me that I will in fact miss Chipotle, of all things, while I am in Mexico (I guess this truly exposes me as a gringa).
5. The unattended pile in my living room doesn’t really matter; what I bring with me won’t define this experience. What WILL define this fellowship experience is my willingness to meet new people, embrace change, seek challenges, and explore a new culture.
And I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off reminder than that.