Sayonara, America!

I’m currently writing from the San Francisco airport. Five hour layover aside, it’s pretty overwhelming to think about how this is my last few hours in the U.S. for at least a year. (The Fulbright contract stipulates that you can only leave the host nation for a period of 2 weeks in total and I’m hoping to spend that time in Nepal and Southeast Asia) I am definitely excited–but nervous too. Unlike other stints abroad which were structured and short-term, I’m now having to build a life for myself in India. There are no other Fulbrighters going to Santiniketan so I will have to really immerse into the community-definitely doable but also difficult.

Before I have to embark on this year in India however, I get to spend this next week in the UK with Manu! She’s been working at the U.S. Embassy in London this summer and has been having quite the experience, from meeting Will and Kate to organizing an independence day party that had thousands of attendees–including a handful of celebrities. (Unfortunately I can’t say more about her day-to-day assignments because they are classified)

I’m especially looking forward to visiting Oxford for a day. The town and the university both have a special place in my heart-my year spent studying there was one of remarkable growth and adventures. We have tickets to the Harry Potter experience and I’ll be going to Cambridge for an afternoon as well so expect lots of photos from the other side of the pond.

While reflecting on my summer job organizing in Portland, I came across this article about Obama’s time as a community organizer. He would later go on to get over 150,000 people registered to vote in underrepresented Illinois communities, an initiative that would have a lasting impact on state politics. It’s always heartening to know that voter registration drives and local community organizing really can make change. And in general, I adore Barack Obama-he was the first president I was able to vote for and I even attended his inauguration in DC. It seems fitting that I read about our American president as I get ready to leave my country behind.

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