Monday, July 18, 2011

Coming Home and Coming Back

If you were to visualize me guiltily sneaking my way back onto this blog, it would probably look something like this:

Ok, it's true. It's been seven months since I've touched this thing. But in my defense, I have kept up a bit with my other blog, justifying myself with the knowledge that this one was originally a themed blog for a class.

However, running a little bit with that theme, I have some interesting (well, at least I think they're interesting) things to say. So bear with me.

This was a summer of travel, and not just the travel that comes with the road trip home. Here's what the past three months have looked like for me:

Starting in Norman, Oklahoma after my semester ended, I spent a week in the hill country north of Austin, Texas at a conference with InterVarsity, the campus ministry I'm involved in. From there, I went back to Norman for five days of "downtime," which primarily involved mysteriously having no electricity for a weekend, hiding from a tornado, and doing storm cleanup for my cousins (who lost their house and barn) the day before I flew overseas to...drum roll please....France.

Yes, France, the place that I have always dreamed of going! I was there on a "study abroad"* with my University choir, touring the country from Paris to Nice giving concerts in grand cathedrals, seeing the sights, and speaking bad French to enthusiastic and friendly French people.

After two weeks in France, I flew home for two weeks, and then flew out again for another two weeks in Europe. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)

The destination this time: Ukraine. I spent two weeks there working with CCX (es-es-HA, for those of you who are like me and are Cyrilliterate), an organization like InterVarsity that ministers to university students. I staffed an English camp and worked with students, both Christian and non-Christian, to immerse them in the language, improve their English skills, and study the Bible in English to improve their reading. I also spent three days in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, before and after the camp with the staff and some of the students. It was such an experience that I really can't hope to capture "what I did" or "what it was" in a few sentences.

But readers, if you are still out there, fear not! What I want to chronicle here is more in keeping with this blog's original theme than simply a journal of my trips (although I would love to tell you all about them! If you keep an eye on my tumblr, I just might). I want to look at my two experiences abroad: so similar and yet so different. Look at the cultures, the places, the people I went with and the people I met, and how my perspectives have changed--or haven't.

In my mind, I hope to do a miniseries of posts on this, if only to get my thoughts down before I totally Americanize again. In reality, it may be one or two. But stay tuned (or re-tune?) for what is coming!

*study abroad: noun. Experience overseas for which one requires scholarship, and so agrees to participate in a purely perfunctory program to receive course credit for minimal effort.

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