some days are so profound...they snap you back into a reality you had long since trailed away from. people reminding you of your heart, your worth, your wealth. the girls center has been on a strike for the past week and with it no classes, no girls, no interaction and a certainty that my time in saint lucia would come to a screeching halt without a single good-bye or hug from the group of women and girls that have become my family. i understood of course, they are fighting for their right to increased wages and appreciation. but what was around the corner for me was so incredible even now my heart is bursting open with a love and tenderness i haven't felt in a long time. all of the women came into the center during strike to say good-bye and with them the girls. we had a nice lunch and a ceremony at the end of the day where we got to share with one another. there was not a dry eye in the room...mine producing the most moisture. it's rare that you sit in a room and hear of the impact you have made, the goodness you have instilled, the lives you have affected. it's rare to hear of the ways in which just being yourself proved powerful enough to impact a world view. and today was one of those days. where i heard. one by one staff and girls stood up and told me how i have impacted their lives. i was told how my tattoos were a put off in the beginning but taught to look beyond the exterior and look into the hearts of people to find truth. i was told how my ability to be me without fear of what others thought allowed for openness and gratitude. i was thanked for my words and my willingness to always have the girls backs...and how that simple gesture allowed them to open and listen and make life changes that will affect them for years to come. i was told how simply listening and connecting with a japanese volunteer helped her to settle and find her way a little more easily. i was given love. so much love. and it made me realize that in the year that i was unsure and uncertain but kept pushing on i was making a difference. i was having a powerful impact in ways i could have never imagined...and it made me realize how important we are as humans to one another. without ever sharing with the girls my own history or background...how i have been in their shoes...i was able to connect. i was able to listen. i was heard. it made me realize how powerful it is to put your differences aside...leave the struggles and pain at the door and push through no matter the situation...because it is that day in that moment that you might change someone's life. it made me realize that human connection and authenticity is really the greatest gift we can offer one another and when we live from our hearts, speak from our hearts, breathe from our hearts, and allow with our hearts...we truly can change the world.
so funny. i came into the peace corps with that lofty goal. i was told numerous times that goal is impossible...think smaller or you will burn out. i came to my own realization that maybe just affecting one life would be enough...would create a ripple..but here i am on my way out certain yet again that it is within my capacity to truly change the world. every person in that room was impacted by me in some way today. and that is an incredible feeling. but what is even more incredible is that my entire life and being has been forever changed by each and every one of them. and only for the better.
i was chosen. and i am so grateful i was.