I packed up everything from the last four years of UD yesterday. I packed up spirals and binders and journals. I packed up pens and pencils and highlighters. I packed up notecards and paperclips and a very worn stapler. But most of all, I packed my community, my home, my school into a few boxes and a large red suitcase that will travel with me to Mongolia.
At the start of my last semester of senior year, I was accepted into the Peace Corps, a 27-month commitment to service that would place me in the challenging but exciting country of Mongolia. Where they follow yaks. Drink fermented mare milk. Hunt wolves on horseback with eagles.
And while that all sounds impossibly bizarre, I know that Mongolia has real needs in terms of service. I know that most people live without running water, or plumbing, or even in a house (although, they do live in gers, which are basically large, circular tents with wood burning stoves in the center to survive those nights when the weather drops to -40 degrees).
I know that they need education — not just in English, but in science and math and history. I know that they need help getting grants to build these schools and learning centers to better equip their children for a hopeful future (though I personally think a nomadic lifestyle is pretty cool).
But what I know the most is that UD prepared me for this adventure on which I am about to embark. It gave me a sense of service, of giving back to those in need. It gave me the ability to make friends with anyone, anywhere. And it gave me the support and room to grow into a person willing to go halfway around the world.
I am no longer a student at the University of Dayton. I am a Flyer forever, though. And this Flyer is going to Mongolia.