Over the years I have been amazed by the many students who have told me that the Bolivian program was a life-changing experience. They describe discovering aspects of themselves that they had not previously imagined, dimensions of who they are that somehow being far from home, in a strange and different place, brought into consciousness. It's like walking into your house, a place you think you know perfectly well, and finding that there are whole new rooms there that you didn't even know existed, and are there for you to explore. Others describe the thrill of meeting new challenges, and how this led them to discover previous unknown capacities in themselves. These experiences range from the dramatic to the mundane - from hiking up incredibly steep hills and squeezing through tiny spaces in underground caverns, to simply speaking a foreign language in daily encounters.
The point is that there are so many things we don't know about ourselves, which we can discover when we put ourselves in new and challenging situations. It is easier to stay at home, in comfort and safety, where our assumptions will go unquestioned and our worldviews will remain unchanged. This is a comfortable way to live, and it is not surprising that most people choose to live this way. But for those of you willing to put yourselves out there and challenge yourselves, the potential for growth and discovery is limitless.
It is sometimes said that, "wherever you go, there you are." And indeed, we can't escape ourselves by traveling to faraway places, for we inevitably take our baggage, emotional and otherwise, with us wherever we go. But there is also the possibility that the "you" you find in that other place may be different from the one you thought you knew. And that can make all the difference.