Friends World

Heredia Travel Blog

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the LAC
“After all, people don’t actually get over experiences, especially profound ones, as much as they incorporate them into their character and personality and respond to all subsequent experience from the perspective of their new self.”

From The Stages of Reentry, The Art of Coming Home.

A “Friends World” Education: to me

    Over the years, Friends World College has seen its share of changes; it’s grown and stretched, and now, “Global College of Long Island University” sits awkwardly on tan colored brochures with upside down globes and rainbows.  Here in Costa Rica, I have gone through my fair share of  changes as well.  --And I’d like to credit the great majority of them to Friends World, and education I’ve received.

    This program is certainly different.  In Friends World, I don’t stay up late nights trying to decipher the glossy pages of four inch thick standardized text books.  I’m not tested only to forget the knowledge the next day.  My time is not marginalized by deadlines, and my hard work isn’t reduced to a single letter on my transcript.  I never sit in a class of more than 25 students, and sometime have scheduled classes in which I am the only student.  The setting of my education isn’t blank, numbing brick buildings will long halls painted a deafening white, it is the world; estamos construyendo un mundo de amigos, y por eso, somos amigos del mundo.

But really, don’t jump out of your chair clapping just yet.
  Friends world can also be a curse; the freedom can demobilize you, leave you dumbfounded and frustrated.  Without standardization, without rules, ¿que hacemos?  

This semester, I took a course in field work strategies, essentially an entire class dedicated to teaching you how to teach yourself.  How to explore, process, reflect, and analyze.  Como explorar, procesar, reflexionar, y analizar.  No matter how I write these words, the significance doesn’t seem to be captured.  Fore these are just four short words that represent an entire quest for knowledge.  They represent days of sitting and wondering, days more of going out and searching and capturing, a few days of resting and absorbing, letting thoughts cook in the back of your mind.  Then you sit and try to put it all together… that’s a day and a half, at my rate probably more.  And finally, you have the rest of your life to ask the next questions, to make the next connections, to explore again and again, to grow and change and reach for wholeness, harmony, and understanding.  This is what it means; a Friends World education represents four years of self teaching --hard, raw learning that wont leave you, because each step of the way has changed you so.
This year has shaken my Earth so deeply; it has spurred a tidal wave of wonder within.  I walk through life not afraid to question everything or anything.  I am not intimidated by introspection, by asking questions, or by gathering information from all parts of life and from every situation.  No soy timida; no tengo miedo de aprender y transformar.  

            I am an explorer of all sorts.

This year has been all about what I let myself accomplish, and who I let myself become.  I left California last summer all sorts of confused.  I straight up cut out of my social circle, graduated high school (leaving behind my baby and my second home), quit a long term job, moved out of my house, and my parents divorced.  Everything I had ever known, everything I ever did, was swept out of my life in one fatal swoop.  
            I got a passport and came to Costa Rica.

I created a community of family, friends, neighbors, and friendly acquaintances, not only in Heredia, but all around the country, in Panama, and in Ecuador.  I’ve build a safety net; people I can call at any hour of the night if I even need a little help.  I’ve established a place to call home, taken responsibility of myself and my wellbeing.  I’ve adapted to life in a foreign language and become accustomed to being an outsider, but have also worked hard to become accepted and loved by Ticos.  
I popped all the life I once knew like a balloon, and have spent the past year blowing up a new one, of a different color.  

One day, after a lecture in Quito, Ecuador, I was thinking about the indigenous of the region, and their struggle with identity.  To preserve their traditional lifestyle and culture, it is necessary to maintain collective rights as Indians, but in order to be respected by and protected under national law, individual rights as citizens must be obtained.  I pictured a person walking a tight line, any step to one side or the other could throw off his balance, and the fall to one side or the other could be fatal.  I too felt like I was on a tight line, attempting to balance between two identities without veering to one side or the other.  
That’s really what this semester has been, trying to find harmony; the balance.  Whether it was in the Holistic Healing class, trying to live in Ayurvedic balance, or during the independent study period, attempting to find balance between feminine and masculine leadership abilities, harmony has been a goal of mine.  
So I too feel like a person walking the tight line.  Or maybe not walking a tight line; maybe just wandering the wild circus trying to find a path.   I’ve been suffering an identity crisis, trying balance and acknowledge all aspects of my personality, or identity.  As my mother would say, “are you a good Lily?, or are you a bad Lily?”.  Most of my life, I have tried to be one or the other.  I experimented in different social scenes, trying to connect to some extreme.  But extremism has never been my thing, so I’d be stuck there with out an opinion worth listening to; I was the kid in speech and debate competitions reading another students notes, unable to think up any arguments because I was too interested in and receptive to the oppositions argument.  Always wanting to understand an others perspective.
Maybe that’s what’s so important about a Friends World education, the students naturally consider perspective, and are taught to realize that everything is a foggy shade of grey -- nothing is black and white.

So after a lecture in Ecuador, I was thinking about my identity, and how I seem to have polarized my own personality.  I would swing back and forth, confused, wondering if I was good or bad, if I cared or not, if was interested or un-.  My pieces were separated.  I could pull out a face for any situation: job interview Lily, hipster teen Lily, studious Lily, wise and calm Lily, bad ass Lily, cute little Lily, anything.  And for that one day or night I would play a roll, pull on a tiny slice of my personality, and hide the rest.  I fit in pretty well, people liked me for the most part, but I never felt very whole.  I never felt as if anyone really knew me at all because so much was hidden from the eye.  I want to present myself to people as a whole person, and portray all aspects of myself, strengths and vices.
I was thinking about this after a lecture, on the bus in Old Quito; we were driving around the rural areas, and Shellsea was taking pictures.
So one of my many quests this semester has been to reconnect my pieces.  I’ve found that the divides within myself are only a matter of realization.

I have a theory that the teen aged years are for almost getting yourself killed, the 20s are for being glad you didn’t, 30s for caring for others, 40s for caring for yourself, 50s for revolution and change, etc….
Since my teenage years are for almost getting myself killed, there’s not a lot that gets in my way of doing exactly what I want with any opportunity.  I say, hey, you only live once, and if I want to then I should… what’s the point in limiting myself?  I guess that the “bad Lily” side.  But I’m also a good girl.  I care, a lot.  Bringing my sides together has been my goal, and examining the decisions I make.   I’ve been trying not to sabotage myself unconsciously.  I’ve been trying to realize.  And here I am: hard working, party animal, inspired, introspective, addicted, admirable, frustrated, goofy, spiritual, dirty, young, wise, passionate, interested, vagabond; I am what I am and I‘ll be what I let myself become.

So, I know this integrative essay is a little off the wall, but that’s what a Friends World education is to me.  Off the wall, self motivated, inspired and impassioned investigation, and constant exploration and wonder.

Here comes next semester, steppin’ in so pretty.

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the LAC
the LAC
photo by: diisha392