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Make a fresh start

October 14, 2012

Before we were getting set to return to the United States after a month in Italy, one of the KU professors in Florence said we would experience some interesting feelings and opinions upon arrival in the States. We may suddenly decide everything in the United States is nothing compared to that in Italy, and in fact, everything in Italy is superior to anything America could possibly come up with. In other words, we could experience reverse culture shock.

Well, I never experienced reverse culture shock. I never proclaimed myself to the red, white and green or declared that the United States had better adapt every Italian custom. I haven’t wished every night that I live in Italy or have planned to move there after graduation (After all, as I spoke about in my presentation in italiano last Friday, Italy’s press is only partially free; one of the benefits of living in the U.S.). Anyway…

So while I haven’t wanted to drop everything and move to Italy, I do find myself time and again scrolling through my Italy photo albums. I sit with my chin rested upon my fist and stare into the waters surrounding Cinque Terre, the skyline of Florence and the canals of Venice. I wouldn’t say I go so far as to state the United States is inferior to Italy, not by any means, but I definitely have moments where I yearn to be able to get on a train for 25 bucks and travel to a new city. That kind of thing is just not possible in America, and I would say, after careful reflection, that’s one of the things I miss the most about Italy – being able to go to new and incredible bucket list places easily and relatively inexpensively.

So after three paragraphs about that, I will introduce my main purpose for this post. This afternoon, I attended a program at the Dole Institute of Politics during which the annual Dole Leadership Prize was awarded to the Wounded Warrior Project. This organization helps wounded veterans make a fresh start (which just happens to be my Shabbat Calendar’s idea of the week) and shows them someone is there for them. The program included one of the founders and stories from two Wounded Warriors and a caregiver. Moving stories. Incredible stories that can give people faith that no matter how dire things seem to be, they can get better.

The sun setting on the Dole Institute

As I walked back from the Dole Institute –my place of solace – this afternoon, I thought about the stories I’d heard and about how absolutely trivial and dimensionless my daily complaints are. There is so much stress and worry and just so much bad in the world that sometimes it’s hard to remember that there is also so much good.

As I write this, the sun is setting in Lawrence. I look out from my window in Templin and see, legitimately, every color of the rainbow in the sky against the multicolored fall leaves across campus. It is picturesque. It’s beautiful. It’s good. Yeah, it’s not Cinque Terre, but it’s Lawrence. More than that, it’s home.

Even though my memories and pictures from studying abroad are extraordinary, they’re memories. The leaves on the trees, Allen Fieldhouse in the distance, the sunset outside my window – while fading – is today; it’s real. I can touch it. Well, maybe not the sunset.

As my Shabbat Calendar notes, it’s time for a fresh start – a fresh mind and attitude. Things are nowhere near dire or even bad in my life with a sunset like that in a town like this and in the United States. Sure, I can’t get to another city on the cheap fairly quickly, but there is so much still to explore here and so many things to do. And I’m going to do so much good, you guys. It’s going to be beautiful.


From → Sophomore

One Comment
  1. Love this. Helped me gain perspective for sure, because I struggle with the same kind of this. As always, great writing!


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