This evening I started getting birthday wishes from friends where it's already tomorrow, and it made me think about how blessed I've been this year to somehow make friends in so many hemispheres.
Last march, as I was in Latvia for a mission trip kind of thing over spring break that I decided to participate in on a sort of whim. I was also in the process of ending my membership in an online game I'd been playing, Travian. The server was closing, and to avoid losing contact with one of my teammates, I messaged him my email address. It turns out he was from Iran, and I ended up having some very deep and interesting conversations with him and one or two of his friends that I connected with online. This was all while I was in Latvia, not sleeping because of jet-lag, and meeting lot's of Latvian high school students, a few of whom I've managed to keep in touch with. That week feels like a blur in my memory––but I think part of the reason is how much happened and how much I learned.
Over the summer came the journey that I had actually planned for: my internship in Beirut. Not only did I find myself in another foreign country, but I was also living and working with people who had come there from places far beyond the Middle East. Between visiting friends in Jordan and meeting new people there, traveling around Lebanon just talking with people, and hiking in the Lebanese mountains with people from Canada, Korea, and just about everywhere in between, I got to know and learn about the lives of more people with more diverse stories than I had ever imagined I would in my life.
On the way home I got to visit SBI back in San Lorenzo, Italy, where I was able to see people whom I hadn't in almost three years––back when I went to school there. I guess that was where it all started in a lot of ways. It was a little strange being there without my classmates from that semester, but looking at where they all are now, I realize how lucky, and wonderfully improbable it was that I got to meet all of them back then.
So looking back on this year, for someone who isn't very social or good with people, I feel like I've been really blessed to get to know so many from so far––and for the technology that gives the means for us to keep in touch. There's an old saying from back when Britain was still very much an imperial power that "the sun never sets on the British Empire," which was referring to Britain having colonies in nearly every time zone. The British Empire may be long gone (and that may be a good thing) but I think it's amazing that we live in a world today where it can be said that the sun never sets on our friends.