I know we didn't part on the best of terms, but now that more than a year has passed, I can confidently say that I regret nothing. As I walked home from class today, it hit me more clearly than it ever has before. I am here, in grad school, studying something that I've discovered completely fascinates me from nearly every angle, teaching students who never cease to impress me, doing what I find more fulfilling and satisfying than anything ever before, and you're to blame for all of that, Peace Corps. You. You forced me to do the last thing I ever wanted to do. You dropped eager, motivated students right in front of my face, in a roundabout manner, and said "See? You silly goose, teaching's not that bad." And it's not. It's not that bad at all.
Back in high school and college, I remember feeling acutely jealous of anyone who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. Choosing a field of study was difficult enough for me that I switched majors five times and couldn't settle on just one. And while studying and pursuing my degrees, it never felt quite right. I didn't want to read more than I had to. I couldn't fathom a topic in GIS to research. I couldn't imagine doing field work forever, yet I stuck with it. And I'm glad I did. Having a science background hasn't been a setback in studying linguistics and TESOL. In fact, I think it has helped me out a few times on the analytic and factual side of things. But it's so good to be studying English. And teaching English. And being involved in something that seems to be a part of me. Something that is coursing through my veins and beating through my heart and pounding through my brain, in a way that geography and map-making never did.
What if we had never met? I wonder that from time to time. Who on earth would I be? I define myself by my beliefs and the things I do that are inline with those beliefs, much of which has evolved into a me that I love due to my experiences with you. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I feel like I can say that I love who I am. I love me. And who I've become. Sure, I've got my quirks, but there's not much I'd change. Maybe it's just maturity and becoming comfortable in my own skin, but I'd like to think it's also finally discovering a path and a purpose that is crystal clear, bright, and promising in comparison to all those other paths I've been muddling through.
You're going to be a part of my life forever. Miha, Lajos, Kati, Gabi, Beti, Anca, Roli, Lia, Cezi, Anisoara, and Laci will never leave me, no matter how little communication we have. You and they are in every lesson I teach and in every lesson I learn, and always will be. And it's just a little cheesy how beautiful it all looks right now.
I guess I should say thank you. So, thank you, Peace Corps, for bringing about the me that I've spent the past 30 years trying to find. Thank you.