I’ve been the youngest child in my family since I murdered my younger sib–excuse me, since always. (Oh man, nineteen words in and I’m already making shitty jokes.) As a result, my deepest, darkest, most realistic fears from the ages of five to eleven were (1) worms and (2) scraping my knee on the asphalt cul-de-sac of my devastatingly suburban neighborhood; from twelve to sixteen, (1) worms and (2) missing the bus to school because of my chronic oversleeping problem; and from seventeen to eighteen, (1) worms and (2) AP Physics (which I still don’t know why I took). I blame that, and the fact that everyone else always took care of my problems for me, for my winningly endearing lack of common sense and problem-solving capability.
Oh yes, my lovingly and comfortably lived childhood, j’accuse!
It’s a blessed problem to have, like most of my problems are. Sheltered by a brilliantly knowledgeable (read: know-it-all) dad, an endlessly caring mother, and a sister four years older in age but twenty years older in maturity, I was babied to near suffocation. So I spent my time wrapped up in tiny fictional worlds instead–in books, in video games, in movies and Korean dramas, drawing comics, playing violin and conjuring universes in melodies. It means that I, a nineteen-year-old legal adult (LOL) with Responsibilities, can’t cook a meal that doesn’t involve fried eggs, iron a shirt without Googling instructions, book a hotel room, do my taxes, or even drive a car, etc. ad infinitum. It’s garnered a healthy amount of self-deprecation, certainly (like that totally hilarious time I went to the airport to Nicaragua with an expired passport because I didn’t know putting holes in it meant it was expired–fun times, right y’all?), but it’s only when I jumped headfirst into college that I realized how fun taking care of things is. How much I love having a tiny world to save, and to feel, and learn from, and have to myself.
Since I was little, I did this on my own. I still do (and it’s my hope to post, alongside my travel experiences, bits and pieces of the art I so enjoy–poems that I like, ink doodles, excerpts of writing). I’ve always been the youngest child, but I’ve always been private and introverted, too. I suppose that’s why I like being alone so much, so I can spend the time to sculpt my own universe. But now, I want to extend this universe, my universe, to the vast and deeply full earth around me. Because if I don’t, I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope with the wasted opportunity of my short while in existence.
Ooh, sappy! I promise not to be didactic on this blog. Let’s veer away from the sap and look at the facts. In two days, at a little bit after 4AM on June 5, 2016, I’ll be heading halfway across the globe, completely on my own. I’ll take a three-hour long bus from suburbanville, New York (i.e. Guilderland) to JFK Airport, and from there, take an almost twenty-hour flight to Tokyo, Japan to study the language, the culture, and environmental policy with a Japanese NGO for six weeks. Afterward, I have the privilege to fly to Suncheon, South Korea to study the efforts of Suncheon Preservation Park for three weeks–and after that, the opportunity to meet my roommate, best friend, and platonic soulmate Fuyu in Yantai, China, a tiny and lovely coastal city that I think will provide a truly unique window to China.
The help I’ve received already is unfathomable–once again, I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the people around me. Ha Yohan, a Korean preacher living in Saitama, has extended such concern and love to me without ever having met me; Company President Kasuya Atsushi and wife Kiyomi, six-year-old Nao, and their (f&*$#@g adorable) Shiba Inu Taro are housing me in their home out of the goodness of their hearts. The list goes on and on.
The privileges and blessings are truly, truly miraculous–there’s nothing in the world that can explicate why I would deserve this over someone much smarter, much quicker, much more selfless than I am. But the fact that I have these privileges at all suggests that I have an obligation to be better, and to do better, for the world. I can do the necessary little things that I can–recycle, throw away litter I find, donate my beloved books, cut back on red meat (sniff)–but little things don’t matter in the long stretch of time. What the world needs is global change, and a common understanding of our mutual responsibility to save our common home: divest, invest in clean energy, and make a conscious effort to make sustainable and green decisions. I still don’t get it; I still don’t understand so much. There is always more to do, but now I will extend to bigger things; and it is my dearest hope that perspectives and people in Japan, Korea, and China will help me understand those bigger things.