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Reflecting on 2017

I finished exams just a few hours ago. Now that my mind is free to wander outside of the scope of constitutional and corporate law, I find myself reflecting on the past year. 2017 has been a difficult year for a few reasons, but I can’t help but think back on the last 12 months with gratitude and wonder. I am so grateful for the beautiful souls I’ve encountered on this year’s journeys, and I have been reminded of an important lesson–family isn’t limited to relation by blood or marriage, but it’s who we choose and who choose us back.

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Like 2016, 2017 took me all around the world (on a strict travel budget, of course)–to Costa Rica and Mexico in January, to Israel and Palestine over spring break, and to Egypt and Uganda–a country I now consider a second home because of the amazing people I came to know there–during the summer. I am so thankful for another year of adventure, and for those of you who have followed along with the blog and sent your encouragement and kind words along the way!

Here are my top posts from the year:

10.

I wandered through some rainforests in the greenest place on earth with my head in the clouds. (Monteverde, Costa Rica)

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9.

I learned about keeping my heart light like a feather while exploring one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. (Cairo, Egypt)

 

8.

I spent three weekends soaking in Uganda’s rural beauty through safari rides, hikes, animal-watching, and camping. I saw a napping leopard in Queen Elizabeth Park, felt the might of the Nile at Murchison Falls, and hiked to the most secluded waterfalls at Sipi Falls. (Uganda)

 

7.

I witnessed for myself the history, pain, and complexity of modern Israel. I visited Jesus’s empty tomb in Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, walked the Via Dolorosa, and offered a prayer at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I also visited Yad Vashem and met a Holocaust survivor, and recommitted myself to working to make sure human beings never “other” each other again. I also learned first-hand about the injustice in the West Bank while meeting with entrepreneurs and activists during a visit to Ramallah, and I know that I have a responsibility to share what the experience taught me. (Israel/Palestine)

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Views of Nazareth. “Pulled into Nazareth, was feeling bout half past dead” – The Weight, The Band

6.

I was able to connect with and learn about Yimba, an amazing NGO in Uganda that is empowering women with job skills training while addressing the crisis of women’s health in rural Uganda. I shopped for fabric in the central market of Kampala, and have some beautiful clothing that will always be a reminder of my time spent living in Uganda! (Kampala, Uganda)

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5.

I recommitted myself to seeking justice for the oppressed and learned an incredible amount from some of the strongest human rights defenders in the world while working as an intern with Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda. (Lira, Uganda)

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4.

It took a near death experience to remind me to be grateful for each day I am given and the adventures that come along…(Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica)

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3.

…and another almost near death experience to show me how strong I actually am. (La Fortuna, Costa Rica)

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2.

A night in the Judean desert reminded me of the importance of being still and listening in the midst of chaos. (Israel)

1.

My grandmother passed away in February. I was reminded that, while we have too many tears here on this earth, there are no tears in heaven, and I have a special guardian angel looking out for me. (NYC/Memphis)

 

Thank you, 2017! ❤ Japan and China (and who knows where else!), I will see you in 2018!

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Top Ten Posts from A Summer Around the World

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Prague. We are all just walking each other home. You are what you love, not who loves you. 

Happy May! Even as I am buried in outlining for final exams, recovering from strep throat, and preparing for a summer abroad in Uganda (!), I find myself reminiscing hard about this week last year–when I left NYC for 3.5 months backpacking around the world!

As part of my frolic down memory lane (and exam procrastination…) I’ve put together my top ten list of A Southern Yankee Abroad posts from last summer. Enjoy! ❤

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#10 – Who knew three days without wifi or a shower with friends in Bolivia could be such an amazing and freeing experience! Girls Gone Wild: Three Days in the Bolivian Wilderness

#9 – Vietnam has unlimited hidden treasures. I’m Hueee Up (I Feel Blessed) + Halong Bay

#8 – Traveling isn’t always rainbows and butterflies… Kutna Hora and a Train Ride with Franz Kafka (Czech Republic)

#7 – Cambodia remains my favorite country I’ve ever visited — deep sadness and deep beauty. Siem Reap: Temples and Countryside

#6 –  I did some soul searching in the most beautiful city — Paris, the City of Light. Questions in Paris

#5 – An encounter with a Buddhist monk in Chiang Mai reminded me that kindness transcends nationality, language, and religion. Wat’s Up?! Monks, Cooking, and River Cruises in Chiang Mai

#4 – I truly felt at home during a week-long visit in Provence, thanks to the generosity of some amazing people I met along my journey. Provence: Lavender Fields and Lost Luggage

#3 – Craic abounds in Ireland, especially if you’re friends with Michael! Ireland Part 1: Brexit, Dublin Pride, and Irish Football

#2- Being lost on the back of a motorcycle in the rain surrounded by people who don’t speak English in Ho Chi Minh City is a memory I could never have planned, but will always treasure. Adventures in Saigon

#1 – I turned 27 years old on top of a rainbow in Peru…literally! This trek up Vinicunca Mountain with Sarah, Rachele, our guide Abel, and Rainbow the dog was the highlight of the entire summer. A Birthday Trek to Vinicunca Mountain 

 

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