Ever since I was a little girl, I fancied the idea of traveling the world. Me and my best friend planned our trip to Ireland, and from there, the next place I wanted to go was London. After that, it didn't really matter the order of the places I went, I just wanted to go. I was excited to see the world and all the different people in it, and once I even planned how I would run away from home and go to London to join the royal ballet school. And I thought I would go to a university in Ireland, of course.
Well, life happened. I didn't run away. A new best friend and I planned our dream trip to England, and were all set to go, until the royal baby was born and somehow made it impossible for us to get a standby flight to the UK. We went to Washington D.C. instead, which was still amazing.
I didn't go to school in Ireland, but I did go to school in Hawaii. That was an incredible adventure I never imagined I would have. Being white, I was suddenly the minority, and I loved becoming a part of a new culture. And now I am going back to BYU Hawaii just next month!
Something I also never thought I would get to do was go to Paraguay to teach English. I cannot describe to anyone my love for Paraguay and the experience I had there that changed my life. I learned so many things there that I don't know how I would have learned any where else.
Walking in the streets of Asuncion, I could wear whatever I wanted, I didn't have to style my hair, and I didn't have to wear a lot of make-up, but I still felt beautiful. The thing that mattered was the kind of person I was.
My students looked up to me, and I looked up to them. We helped each other. It is an incredible feeling to go into a classroom every day and inspire learning. I miss my students so much. I love being a teacher.
It doesn't matter what the classroom looks like or the materials that are used. What matters is if the students know that you care about them. I learned that if you care about a person, nothing else matters. If you truly care for them, they will feel that, and anything you do because of that love for them will help them.
I went half way across the world and found myself. I learned that I want to be a happy person, and that there is a certain pattern to assure my happiness. That comes with being proactive with my problems, putting all my efforts into helping other people, and in learning to laugh at the things that aren't dire. Sure the doorknob fell off. We sometimes were too tired to make more than popcorn or oatmeal when we got home. Chocolate milk became a prized possession. We were exhausted a lot of the time. But learning to laugh all the time felt so good.
My students taught me the importance of family, and made me more grateful for my own. They are so loving and supportive of me, and were all for me to go to South America. Family is the most important thing, and anything else comes second.
I gained confidence in myself, and learned independence. I learned that even when you are tired, you keep going. I learned that helping others is of high importance. I learned that I have to go to church every Sunday in order to get through my week; there was just no way I could skip it. God taught me that His plan is the happiest plan, and that if I put my trust in Him, even when I don't understand, I will be happy.
Teaching English in Paraguay wasn't easy, but for all the things I learned and the experiences I had, I wouldn't trade anything for it.
Traveling and doing good wherever you go makes you a better person. You come in contact with other cultures and learn to love, and learn what is important. You grow and learn to find confidence in yourself. If any chance to travel comes up, take it. You never know when it will come again, and you never know how much you will learn and love.
I wish I could paint words the way I see the pictures in my head. I have a montage of rooftop days and nights, music, and sunsets. I miss the music in the streets, and the noisy trucks in the middle of the night. I miss the patchwork of sidewalks and the bright tropical colors, and the humid breeze blowing through my hair. Most of all, I miss the people.
I can't wait to get out again, and do more good in this great wide world. I can't wait to learn about new cultures and discover myself, again and again.
Of course, my trip had other benefits as well. Paraguay is where I met the fabulous Michael Morton, who I am getting married to THIS TUESDAY. In three days, I will be Mary Morton. This is going to be the greatest adventure of all!
We met in Paraguay and now we are going to school in Hawaii together. We have quite the story. I love it.
Thanks Mikey, for deciding to discover yourself too, so that we could discover each other :)