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What can your story be in the United States?

09/03/2014

The Journey

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As I look back on the past few months, it has become evident to me that coming to DC was the best decision I could have possibly made.  My  life's journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.  It has been challenging, demanding and also extremely rewarding. This is the journey I still continue today.  Wherever I look, I still witness the work that has to be done, the challenges that still lay ahead, and battles that must be fought within me.  I am mindful of the privilege that I have been given, and I embrace it like one.  I remember with humble gratitude those kind people who supported my decisions all the way from the beginning and still continue to do so.  It is well known that nobody can achieve anything without support. I’m surely not an exception.  Thank you my family and friends!

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I have to say that time runs differently here than it did back home. A I friend of mine compared it to looking through the car window – everything moves really slowly at the back, in the distance, while in front of you life passes by at full speed.The  same reason is the foundation of my inability to express my self while having Skype conversations with my friends from Latvia – I have too many and too few words at the same time to describe my experiments with life in the USA. I take comfort in the knowledge that not all experiences and wisdom are communicable and that is also the reason that makes this journey so dear to me.

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After coming to the USA, I found myself able to check off items from my “bucket list” faster than I ever could before. The big cities, important people, and luxury and infinite entertainment here all dazzled my senses. Even though I do not find that all so fascinating anymore, I still feel lifted by the sweet sense of possibility, determination and change that this place embodies.  I have been able to accumulate a fair share of valuable experiences, but I am also aware of the toll that this opportunity has extracted from me:  missing the opportunity to see my niece’s first steps and witness her first words, missing my friends’ birthdays, weddings and births of their children, not saying the last good bye to people who passed away suddenly, and not being there when my family needed me. At the end of the day, however,  I am reminded  that this journey is still worthwhile.  I am taking it for those who believe in me, and for the people who don’t have the chance to do the things I am doing.

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Recently, I have realized that the unwritten rules at my workplace are no longer a secret to me.  I have started to understand how  things run here, and I feel more connected to the work I am involved in. I often wish I could do more for the people who accepted me so kindly. I have witnessed truly remarkable and even historic successes.  These have included improving entire legal systems, providing and increasing access to justice, diversifying our donor base, increasing the number of countries with which we partner, and most importantly, helping to improve and save lives, especially of the most vulnerable and marginalized people around the world – all in the face of extremely challenging circumstances. Yet there is still too much hatred, injustice and violence present around the globe, and only now do I begin to grasp the true scale of that.  I find myself  believing that as long as the questions are still being asked and efforts made, what binds us together might somehow, ultimately, prevail. That faith can sometimes be hard to sustain. However, at the risk of sounding incurably naive, I still believe that mankind will be forced to find a way to reach the bright daybreak of peace.

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I also cannot underline enough how blessed I feel about living in the house I do.  My landlord Jerry a.k.a.” the Mayor of Jocelyn Street” is a truly remarkable man of integrity with a big heart.  I never stop admiring his cordiality, wit and unerring ability to encourage us when it is necessary. Never has he given me reason to doubt his hospitality. I doubt if he ever would.  Every person at our  “global ”house is adding his or her own cultural background to the overall atmosphere and it makes everyday life so much more interesting. We are all quite different in terms of our personalities, interests, and stages of life, yet what strikes me the most is that we all get along so well. The answer to this could be that we have a deep respect for each other and we are also sharing a common goal – to make the most out of the time here. I will definitely miss our evening chats, dinners, board games, trips, workouts, and all the laughter over some inside joke.  I could write a separate blog about our adventures at home, but for now let me say – Jocelyn Street has filled my soul full of simple, unquestioning gratitude.

I am half way through my year.  It is becoming increasingly obvious that my time here will be more than crossing things off  my wish list, excelling in my career, or making connections. It will be about living an authentic life. It will be about facing things you have to face.  The last few months have allowed me to see my weaknesses clearly without ceasing to believe in my capacity to change. I have always had the feeling that the only thing that is really required from me is being true to myself,  yet I have often failed in doing that.  I think each  of us has one thing that we know we should be doing or should be facing but still we run away from that as the first opportunity presents itself. We try to get caught up with work, small goals, new excitements and people, but once in a while we will  still get reminded about that one thing.  I have never been so fully aware of my Achilles’ heel, and more than anything, I am grateful that I have finally run out of excuses not to do something about it. There are moments when not changing is more painful than changing. This is one of those moments. The desire to overcome my weaknesses pushes me forward even when the path is uncertain. I will spend the next months of my journey here reinventing myself and conquering things that I have been avoiding for too long. I realize that DC has given me a bulwark on which to grow. Now I’m certain about what Frank Sinatra meant when he sang “The best is yet to come”.

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