My name's Erika. Right now I live in a small town in the middle of Missouri. I say right now, because soon- say eighteen days soon- I will be moving to a small town in the middle of Arkansas. I told one friend this news, and he said "Erika, I know you need to get out of Missouri, but that's a weird angle to do it." And yes, yes it is. But I'm not moving to Arkansas for Arkansas (really, who would?) I'm moving to Arkansas to volunteer for the non-profit organization Heifer International. I will be working as a Global Passport Volunteer which, according to their job listing, is:Basically I'm leading a program to raise awareness through leadership and team building exercises. It may not sound like the most exciting thing, the most exotic thing, but to me it is. It's extremely exciting and terrifying and new. Let me clarify why:
A Global Passport volunteer position is perfect for a dynamic, dedicated person who enjoys working with diverse groups of people. GP volunteers will help high school and college students expand their horizons regarding hunger and poverty through a unique program. The GP volunteer will be responsible for facilitating a multi-night program in an outdoor, experiential learning setting.
Last May I graduated from high school. I had dreams like every other graduate, and expected to get them the ordinary way. I would go to college for four years, maybe for a few more to grab another piece of paper or two, and enter the work force. So fall came, and I traversed up to Kansas City. I thought I would find amazing people, amazing books, and have a blast. The only thing I really found: amazing Krispy Kremes were only five minutes away.
So I moved back home. It wasn't the easiest thing to do, and definitely not the most glamorous, but I did it anyways. I moved back, and decided that instead of moping and being a lazy bum (which I sometimes still do. I will not deny it!) I would get involved. So while I was waiting to get back on the schedule at Staples I threw myself into a very inspiring political campaign. (I guess now that the election is over, I can go ahead and say it--- Despite my resemblance to Sarah Palin, I worked for the Obama campaign. And I loved every minute of it.) I would walk miles of neighborhoods everyday, and met hundreds of amazing people ( and a few grumpy ones.) They all gave me hope in my community, and taught me that I am more than just a college drop out. They introduced an entirely different, exciting world to me: Politics and non-profits. There is no doubt that I would have considered doing something like I am now, but I don't think I could have the guts to follow through without having met them.
So that leads me to now. I'm sitting in bed, wearing my penguin pajamas that I wear almost nightly -almost!- and am wrapping up the past few months of my life. It all sounds so neat and easy when I just type it out like that, but it definitely wasn't. Luckily I was born into an extremely loving, supportive, and accepting family. They didn't ask any questions when I called sobbing, asking to be picked up from Kansas City one night. They didn't have any hesitations in letting me move back, interruping the daily flow they had just learned. And now that I'm about to venture off on a new journey, they've been nothing but supportive. Sure, my father jokes "It's about time you left." but I know that he'll miss me. I also know that he's somewhat proud and excited- especially when I caught him reading World Ark, Heifer's monthly publication, before his nightly nap tonight. It was almost sweet enough to make my eyes misty.