Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week Twelve: Here and Now

By: Amanda Knipple

To start out the week, we had our Community Meeting on Sunday evening. Grace and I were this week’s community leaders and we (okay well, mostly I) requested that everyone come dressed as a political figure of their choice. This combined some of my favorite things about our group: our knowledge of and willingness to discuss politics, and of course our sense of humor. With very short notice and very limited wardrobes, our group pulled together a lovely hodge-podge of political figures. It’s been a running joke among our group that I’ll be running for president in 2044 so we all laughed when Grace showed up dressed like me.

Left to right: Former Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter
and George W. Bush, Future President Amanda Knipple.
We’ve reached that point in the semester where we’re beginning to look towards home. Obligations call us away from Windhoek as we busy ourselves with picking next semester’s classes and housing, and as we try to apply for spring or summer jobs in the ever competitive US job market. It’s a struggle to remember to be present in the here and the now when life so constantly demands that you keep moving forward. Among the barrage of 'what’s next for you', there lies the pressure to constantly know where life is taking you and what your next step is. But there’s a beauty in not knowing and a peace in admitting that you don’t need to know right now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future, but I am convinced that this trip has changed the way I see it, and the way that I approach it. I’ve had all my power taken away while at the mercy of my rural homestay parents, in an unfamiliar environment surrounded by a language that I don’t speak. I’ve seen problems that have no easy solutions, as well as well-meaning solutions that not even begin to address the true problems. I’ve learned that it’s not always my place to have an answer. I’ve become content with not knowing.

One of the highlights of this week was a panel that our lovely internship teacher Linda put together for us. She searched all over Windhoek for Americans that are living and working here and rounded them up so they could tell us their stories. What they had to say really solidified the idea that there is no right or wrong way to go about living your life. Everybody on that panel had a different story, took a different path, and wound up doing amazing things over the course of their life (and are still going!) Sometimes a normal course of action won’t be the one that fits into your life. It’s okay to chase that outrageous dream you have. It’s okay to not go down the road that you are expected to. It’s okay to not know what’s next, because you still have now.

It’s a topic that has come up a few times before this: being present in what you’ve been given and not taking things for granted.  We all know how lucky we are just to be here.  It’s an opportunity that we will most likely never have again. Many of us don’t know what we’re doing next. Of course, we could probably tell you what classes we’re taking next semester, and that we plan to graduate college, but that’s probably about it. We have issues that we care about, and I can tell you that we’re all passionate people, but the paths that we are going to embark on are still a mystery.
But that’s okay.

In 2044, you might see me running for president. Maybe I’ll be married with kids. Maybe I’ll follow the lead of the panelists and work overseas somewhere. The world is full of possibilities and I’m glad that we’re choosing not to limit ourselves. Let me tell you, this group is going to do amazing things. They’re change makers.

But for now, we can’t focus on that. We can’t lose sight of the small amount of time that we have left together. There are projects to finish, conversations to be had, places to go, and jokes to be made. Windhoek will be here forever, but we won’t. In the wise (or not so wise-you decide) words of our resident philosopher/advisor Attila: “this is the future.”  With only three weeks left, I plan on living out every moment and not letting anything go to waste. Next semester can wait. The rest of my life doesn’t have to be planned. I’m content to just pass the time with these amazing people that I’m surrounded with.

1 comment:

Travis Brodbeck said...

From Emily Jewell at the Fair Trade Meeting: (P.S) we miss you.

You're on the left....

Left to right: Former Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter
and George W. Bush, Future President Amanda Knipple.