Full Circle?

Balance. Growth. Symbiosis. Change. Unlearned. Transition. Expectations. Fulfillment. Mirror. Acceptance. Foster. Now. Patience.

The group returned after ITT refreshed and recharged with more positive attitudes and energies than had been experienced throughout the trip. While each one of us had a different ITT experience, most traveled to Siem Ream to marvel at the infamous temples; some settled quite comfortably in the bustling city of Phnom Penh, some tested the Indonesian waters of Bali, one settled into northern Thailand’s organic farm life and some enjoyed island hopping in southern Thailand.

After our ITT experiences we gathered together again in Kanchanaburi, Thailand for a 3-day “disorientation”. We shared ITT stories with one another under the shade of an unimaginably large tree and bonded over kayaking, karaoke, a waterfall hike and group chats. On our last night, we huddled in a semi-circle under palm trees and a blanket of stars amidst a garden that cradled the banks of the River Kwai. Together, we played some games (no, not Samurai…and no, not Mafia either!) and shared some laughs. The list of words that introduces this blog is also a product of that last evening together.

Today, Operation Groundswell’s Southeast Asia Eco team has come full circle. After six weeks and countless adventures we have returned to Bangkok, Thailand where we first met each other with eager anticipation. Now we await our return home.  For some, “home” means going back to our families and for others it means calling a new city or country our new home.

Although, in some ways we have always had what is most special about home all along; family and friends. Whether we were in Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh, Kanchanaburi, Koh Rong, Siem Reap, Railay, Ho Chi Minh or Koh Phi Phi we made each place our home. We were one another’s loving brothers and sisters, protective fathers and mothers, best friends with whom we confided, worst enemies for whom – at times – we held distain, and cool aunts and uncles who spoiled us rotten.

Unlike our lifelong families and friends, we did not spend years upon years living with one another. In fact, we were complete strangers just six weeks ago, forced to deal with tight living quarters, foreign foods, unknown illnesses, physical labour, the heat, exotic bugs, and new environments.  While these are all the necessary ingredients for a dysfunctional family (whose isn’t, really?) they are also the ingredients that turned fourteen strangers into potentially lifelong friends. We supported and encouraged one another.  We challenged one another. We argued and we disagreed but we also shared priceless moments and memories, laughs and nonsense. If these aren’t the markings of a family and a home, what is?

So whether we are off to our “real” homes or if we have to construct new homes in cities as we continue to travel, we have become a unique family, scattered throughout the world in the upcoming months but always available at a moment’s notice to once again fulfill our roles as siblings, parents, enemies, and/or friends.

Of course, we have hardly come full circle. Quite the opposite, actually. Where we are mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically today is simply not where we were six weeks ago. Six weeks of travel will do that to you. It did it to us.

Always remember that we choose who we want to be. We make the moments. We are the change.