Three short months ago I found myself anxious and stressed out as I tried to decide what the heck I would need to live in the Panamanian jungles. I had a faint idea of what I was getting into, but nothing could have prepared me for the journey I was about to embark on. I anticipated awkward hello’s and the discomfort of trying to navigate a new social situation. As a camp professional, I am used to throwing myself into these situations often. Little did I know that this would be one of the easiest groups to immerse myself in. We met as twenty five twenty-somethings with big dreams, a spirit for adventure, and no real clue what we were about to do. Three months later we leave as a family. Bittersweet goodbyes and farewell dinners are a reminder that we have greatly impacted each other’s journeys and that the impermanence of goodbye is actually just a heartfelt “until we meet again.”
I am now a short three hour flight away from home. I will step foot in Hartsfield-Jackson International airport a mentally and physically stronger person much more fulfilled and whole than when I left. My friends and family will no doubt recognize the monumental changes that have occurred. They will wish they could thank the individuals that have inspired me, motivated me, taught me, challenged me, and changed me. Joe did a fabulous job of thanking everyone, so I will spare you, and myself, the painful task of summing up the impact an individual can have. Instead, I will say one short thank you to the collective.
Kalu Yala was a much needed beacon of hope in a time of complacency in my life. I realize now that I was not truly living my life, but instead sleepwalking through it. The individuals I met in my time in Panama have lit anew the fire within my head and my heart that pushes me to dream, to hope, to believe in the impossible. Each of you has had a tremendous impact on how I view the world and subsequently choose to live in it. You have reminded me that it does not take monumental action to create change. It is the small smiles, the high fives, the laughs, the encouragement that we give one another on a daily basis that builds the foundation that slowly creates the change we seek.
I take to Colorado a piece of every person I met here. I hope that in some way I have created half the change that was created in me. I will never forget my time in Panama, and now begin planning how I will get back. I look forward to remaining close to this company and watching it grow in the future. Thank you cannot contain how much I appreciate each of you, but it will have to do.
Much love, until we meet again.