I celebrated my 30th birthday on Thursday night. Confession: it was not really my birthday, nor am I turning thirty. Rather, for a variety of reasons and crises, my real thirtieth birthday was not the celebration I had hoped it would be. So, we decided to redo it, and in the process, restart the decade.
The possibility of starting over and starting smarter is amazing (all presents are bonuses!). There are so many things I want to tell my thirty year old self: relax, laugh more often, write down the small moments, eat more mangoes, don’t hide what you think, trust yourself. As I hypothetically start my decade over again, now is the chance to put this advice into practice. I am going to eat more fruit salad and continue to give up insecurity. Also: tell everyone at work my temporary tattoo is real.
In order to start again, you have to understand the past. Sometimes, it helps to look back from a different perspective. On Thursday, I scribbled myself a note and tacked it to my cubicle wall. It reads, “Never forget that free Haiti financed Simon Bolivar’s revolution.” I am trying to see the past through a different light, to remember that relationships of strength, solidarity and agency have always existed throughout the Americas. Poverty and perceived helplessness are not the only story; a nation of former slaves who fought for their freedom determined to aid in the liberation of their neighbours is an entirely different way of understanding both the past and the present.
Exactly four years ago, I graduated from university. I still remember my first semester and how amazing it felt to learn and learn and learn. One of my classmates referred to me as “that surprised looking girl,” based on my big eyed expression as I soaked everything in. While I would like to learn how to not be quite so obvious (and save money on eye drops), I also want to retain that surprised looking girl outlook: there really is so much to learn.
Yet, university is just one step. As I reexamine the last four years, they have been building blocks towards lifelong learning. First, the reality of life lived with a displaced community and understanding that there are so many more ways to understand a community than simply “victim.” Secondly, almost two years spend in a national level NGO, learning about the challenges of long term advocacy and daily work for justice from within an office, in the middle of complicated city living.
Now, as I restart and readjust to this “new decade”, it’s time to take the surprised looking girl on a whole new adventure. I am in the very beginning stages of transitioning into a position of more regional advocacy and context analysis with MCC. While all the details have yet to be worked out, I am so excited about the chance to continue to learn about and support the other histories and solidarity movements throughout Latin America, to take what I have learnt in Mampujan and Justapaz and see how it fits in an amplified context, and to share those stories, from Haiti to Bolivia to Mexico, with you.
Stay tuned for more! The thirties are going to be great, especially because they will include tortillas!