I bet Carmen Sandiego never had to deal with this…

My heart goes out to my beloved Shanky. The boy challenged himself to travel halfway around the world, Live the Dream, and then experiences something monstrous – a brutal attack. I am simultaneously worried and proud of him – half of my heart wants him home, safe, but the other half wants him to continue living. And I know that these monstrosities are not limited to Kenya, they happen in Atlanta, too.
I experienced something similar (although much milder and less scary I’m sure), and more than anything I wanted to come home. I remember crying, in pain, in an Indian hospital torn between home and continuing the challenge. If I had gone home, I would have been a different person. I would be a different person. So much of that challenge shaped the direction of the rest of my experience (and little did I know, a great deal more of my life as I spent several weeks later in the year in the hospital) – if I had left early, there would have been so much that I would have not known. As terrible as it was, it shaped something spectacular for me.
Knowing the extent of the attack, I was also torn on another decision – whether or not to tell my parents. I crave comforting about the issue – god knows how worried I am about Sean. But on the other side of the coin – would my parents comfort be worth their ultimate worry about my safety in the year to come? Would continue to support my decision to spend the next chapter of my life in what they have labeled a “dangerous place”? Of course, comparing Cairo to Nairobi is a little like comparing tequila and rum – both are exciting, potentially risky, and delicious – just differently. But would they see that? I have the feeling that they would lump together all the places they didn’t understand and categorize them under “Places we will not let our daughter go.” Their understanding and support in my decision to face that challenge are nearly as important to me as the experience itself, and I know that without them this challenge would be about impossible. I guess it is hard for them to relate, my cravings for international experiences are a little, for lack of a better and less cheesy term, foreign to them. They still expect me to “wise up” one day and put on an engineer’s hat, to chicken out, marry, and have those babies that my wide hips were made for, and are still wary of my passion and desire for all things Middle Eastern, challenging, and international. I think that they are proud in some ways, but find it difficult to explain why their daughter is on the other side of the world, why she spends so much time in a student organization they have never heard of, or what the hell her path through life spends so little time on native soil. My new friend faces the same issues convincing her parentals to experience the greatness of the traineeship rocketship. But again, it all comes back to the Dream. And if it comes down to living it or letting it pass by, you better be sure as hell that I am going to be living and breathing all I can of it.


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