29 January 2008

Up Till Now

When I was in high school, I wanted to be something other than average. In 10th grade I applied to be a foreign exchange student. Based on my understanding of the process, there was no way I was going to be selected. But I applied anyway. I always tried out for, applied for, etc., things that I didn't expect to get, hoping to set myself apart.

Well, I was selected to be an exchange student and that unleashed a restlessness in me that's never been quieted. I spent my junior year of high school in the Netherlands (Holland). As the year was drawing to a close, another exchange student asked what my future plans were. With my head firmly in the clouds, I declared I was not going to college but instead, joining the Peace Corps.

Okay, how was I supposed to know that the Peace Corps generally only takes college graduates? So I reluctantly went to college and then to graduate school but the whole time still planning to join the Peace Corps. I remember my graduate advisor asking me what I planned to do once I graduated. When I told him he said, "then what are you doing here?" At my interview for the Peace Corps the recruiter looked at my education and said, "what are you doing here?" It made perfect sense to me if to no one else.

So off I went to serve for two years in Ghana, West Africa. To be honest, I had to look at an atlas to find out where it was when I got my assignment. And the first several people I told asked, "Isn't that where Jim Jones poisoned those people with the kool-aid?" For the record, it's not. That was Guyana and that's in South America. But I did once get a letter stamped, "misdirected Guyana." It took a long time to get to me but I bet it saw a lot of interesting places.

There aren't too many places in this world that I don't want to go and I'm always looking for that next adventure. I've seen more places than a lot of people and I've certainly been to places most people don't think to visit. I kinda like it that way. Okay, I've seen Paris and Venice and Amsterdam and those places are nice. But to me, they don't compare to a village in Benin that isn't on the map or climbing temple steps in Cambodia with people who must have been 80 years old.

I think I've found my next adventure and it certainly isn't a place most people would think of going right now. And it's nowhere near Kansas.