Segue into a new semester…a month late

If you’re dedicated to reading Bethel’s “Beyond the Green” then you might have noticed you haven’t heard from me in a while. It’s been over two months since I arrived “home,” that is, to the United States, from five months studying, playing and living in Quito, Ecuador.Now I need to sit in a classroom in order to speak Spanish.I must admit that it is somewhat intimidating to blog now, without stories of exotic locations and language bloopers–without the excitement that of discovery that you expect to find while living in another country.However, as I continue to adjust and reflect, I am re-discovering things about my surroundings and myself in the context of Bethel College. In short, I feel that I am learning to appreciate my own culture.I appreciate being in a community of passionate people.One example that quickly comes to mind is a recent convocation where professors and other participants in the Jerusalem Seminar spoke of the complexity, pain and reality of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, of the physical and emotional barriers societies (including our own) create. The subject matter was inherently powerful, but the way with which participants, especially students Meredith Lehman and Alison Schmidt-Tieszen, was especially compelling. At risk of sounding too “cursi” (or tacky) it really did make me proud to hear them speak. Proud to be amidst students who obviously seek to be conscientious of the pain in this world and are passionate about our impact as U.S. Citizens as a part of this pain.I appreciate the love of small, daily action.I don’t think that I could have asked for a better living situation upon arrival and integration into Bethel. There are a few awkward interactions when tours of prospective students come through (our room is the show room, 316, stop by anytime!), but even that is enjoyable at times. The atmosphere provided by my suite mates and my neighbors is simply best described as loving.Small notes on my desk, spontaneous dance parties in a dorm room, scattered moments when needs are met by becoming a listener or being listened to, hugs, laughter and frustrations–I had almost forgotten what it felt like to live with friends. This is not a comment on my host family in Ecuador, but I do recognize and value the uncanny ability of those who are closest to sense and help meet your needs.I appreciate Kansas weather–it’s a tease which makes it so much more delightful when it’s actually warm.Finally, I appreciate the blessing of comfort. Even though I complain about cafeteria food, or wish that the tennis courts would have fewer cracks, it still humbles me to realize that with clothes, food, and an adjustable heating system, I have so much more than so many. It’s not that in Ecuador there are no riches or in the U.S. there is no poverty, but unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity meant that I saw children without shoes, without food and without an education. I hope I will never come to terms with that.I promise that every blog post in this semester will not always rely heavily on comparisons to Ecuador, but this might serve as a good segue into the new semester.I hope to continue struggling to article my future experiences.Thanks for reading,Maya-hummus-is-da-bomb-Kehr