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AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL MY VOLUNTEER FRIENDS

February 20, 2020

Four years ago, I started my travel journey, but it was not until last year that I started to volunteer via Workaway. I thought to myself, “What would be the best way to stay in a city for a long time without spending an immense amount of money?” So I registered to be a volunteer. Having lived in three continents, I have volunteered with a bunch of other people who have impacted my life for the better. If I have volunteered with you in the past, I want you to know that you have changed my life for the better.

The journey always starts in an airport, where I anxiously dive in head-first in my newest adventure.

I always try to calm myself down by praying or listening to worship music, but I know that my nerves will start to kick in as soon as this plane hits the ground. The thought of being in a new country is very mind blowing to me, and the thought of living with complete strangers sort of excites me. I know, I am weird, whatever. Honestly, who knows who I will end up living with? Would they be nice, strange, exciting, rude or cheerful? I could use up all the adjectives in the dictionary, but still have no clue whatsoever. You never really know unless you meet them in person.

Then I meet you for the first time, and I have a feeling that we will be such good friends.

Honestly, I feel like I have never hated anybody that I have volunteered with. Okay, that is a lie. I did not get along to, maybe, two people, in the course of two years. But that was it, ha!

How do you live with complete strangers for months and months? I do not know how I did (or still do) it, but I know one thing: knowing how to coexist in a shared living space is important.

Saniya, remember our weekend trip to Agadir? It was the first time I have ever hitchhiked. I was scared shitless, but I knew that I was safe because you have done it before, and I completely trusted you. All went well, and that trip will forever hold a special moment in my heart.

I find it beautifully weird how we can all live with people we have never thought we would end up living with. Every single day that we spend with them, we just pick up bits and pieces of their habits and mannerisms.

Joshua, remember how Sania and Cira had to sage you in Chefchaouen because you ended up having constant back luck? I found that really funny and interesting, because I had never thought sage would have such a deep effect. Our life in Chefchaouen had deeply impacted my view in life, and how we should never take the simple things for granted.

Whenever I meet a new person on the road, I try to think how I could share bits of pieces of myself in them. Then I try to think how they could share bits and pieces of themselves in me. Because we are all going to be living in one space for weeks and weeks, and I would love to know people’s stories and backgrounds and what makes their world go ’round.

Marie, you know how we would crave sweets in the middle of the night and just go dessert-hunting in Istanbul? I have never met someone who loves sweets as much as I did. Plus, our shared room with the view of the Bosphorus River was such a dream. I still am wondering when I will get the chance to come back to our beautiful city.

I lost count on how many mannerisms I have adapted from people I have lived with. It is funny how we all become so alike without completely noticing. I find it really funny how I, sometimes, catch myself doing things that I know I have adapted from somebody else I have lived with before, hahaha.

Kristin, I love how we just completely got along so well. I do not know if I would love Mexico City as much if you were not there. Our daily ‘chisme sessions’ are so much fun, and I will always think fondly of how we would go thrift store shopping with Shauna. Maybe even look back laughing at how we would always be interrogating cheeky Tommy after him being out and about each and every night, heh. I hope my co-volunteers in Medellin are as cool as you guys. Here is to hoping.

I could go on and on about all the people I have volunteered with, but even if you are not mentioned in this article, please know that I have grown to love you and that I miss you incredibly. There will be times when I would just randomly think how you are doing, and then maybe check out your social media account to see what you are up to. Then I would think to myself how I hope you are well, and that you are having the best time in the world. Because you deserve it. Really, you do.

But how do you say good bye to someone you have shared so many memories and moments with? I type this as I get ready to spend my last few days in Mexico City and head onto my next volunteer adventures. Knowing me, I will get pretty sappy in a couple of days when the thought of leaving my current spot is. But I do know that all will be well, and that the cycle with start all over again.

Honestly, I have no idea where I am headed with this so-called, letter, but I know one thing: I wish you all the best in life. I do not know if we will see each other again, but know that the time we have spent together was more than I could ever ask for. These moments in the middle of nowhere in the world will forever be cherished, and I cannot wait to pass on the stories I have accumulated to anybody who will listen. I love each and every one of you, and maybe, just maybe, our paths will cross again…somewhere, anywhere, or maybe nowhere at all. Until then, safe travels, my darling friends.

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:39 NIV

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