Tuesday, September 14, 2010

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

In the year between undergrad and graduate school, my friend Leigh-Anne and I used to get breakfast together every Sunday. After eating bagels and drinking copious amounts of coffee at our favorite nook, we would wander through Pike Place Market. On one of our trips to the market, we met this older, portly Kenyan man who had a little corner shop in Post Alley. We found him sitting patiently in his shop whittling away at a piece of wood.

I used to visit him whenever I came to the market and he would tell me stories about his village in Kenya and about his family. I was fascinated by him and enthralled in his stories. During these visits, I would buy a carved figure of an elephant or a zebra or a giraffe to go with all of the other African figures and paintings that adorned my walls. I loved everything about his shop - the way it smelled of old wood, how filled to the brim it was with artifacts from his home on the other side of the world, how quiet his shop was while the rest of the market buzzed, and how it made me want to be a part of everything it symbolized. He was on his own and working hard to help his family, he was bringing a piece of his homeland to passersby, and he was sharing his wealth of experience with me. And I listened, longing for the day I would get to experience the things he was telling me about, unsure if it ever would happen.

The last time I went to the market to say hi, his store was closed up. I hope that it means he has made enough money to go home and be with the family that he loves. I have been thinking about him a lot since accepting my Peace Corps nomination.

I can hardly believe that I will be going to Africa in a few short months. I truly never thought it would happen. The reality is hard to believe sometimes. I will be seeing and experiencing many of the things he told me about in our afternoon talks. I will be living a new culture, learning a new language, and creating friendships with people literally a world apart from me. I am so proud and humbled by this opportunity. I have been waking up with a smile on my face, looking around my room at the things I bought from him years ago, knowing that I have something very profound to look forward to. I feel like it has been a lifetime in the making and that my dreams really are coming true.


  1. I think I might miss you a little.. but I think its AMAZING that you were given this opportunity. You worked your ass off your whole life with this at as the light at the end of the tunnel, and its finally here.. and its probably the fastest turn around they've ever seen. Also probably the best applicant they've ever come across, so it makes sense that it only took 2 days for them to approve you.

    You're going to have QUITE the experience, and I can't wait to read and hear all about it! You're an inspiration and I'm proud that my sister is so selfless as to give 2 years of her life to support something she cares about and believes so strongly in.

    So even though I'm gonna kinda hate you living in Africa for that long, I'm VERY excited for you to go and change the lives, of at least a few people, for the better.

    I love you!!

    Jena :)

    p.s. I can't wait to visit!

  2. I know I'm going to miss you a lot, and I'm really excited about going to visit!!! You are amazing Tija, but we've always known that. If anyone has the power to change peoples lives, to change the world, it's you!

    I love you so much...Mom

  3. The perma-smile on your face is an example of how a significant life change like the PC will change your life before it even happens. Plus it really makes you place value on the time you have left. Good luck! btw, my hometown is Lewiston ID (2-3 south of Spokane)...enjoy the Pacific NW