this email landed in my in-box yesterday. with kaley's permission, i am sharing it here. if you've ever thought about going on a volunteer vacation or considered sending your teenager on one, read this and you might decide to just do it. thank you, kaley! you made my day.
"with each day, i realize more and more the impact that africa has had on my relationships and my own life. when i first got back, it was hard to balance the life i have in america and the life i had in uganda. the bonds i made in africa are unlike any that i’ve ever had, and its been confusing trying to find that at home. things in uganda came naturally, and everything was real. i think it’s just been very strange to see the differences in how friendships are made here and just how people interact in general. i guess it has a lot to do with the fact that i’m still in high school, but i’ve been trying really hard to not get caught up in it. as i go into the third month away from uganda, i’m starting now to realize the niche that the experience has in my life.
it has been about accepting new people and loving them for their differences.
i don’t know exactly how to describe the extent to which my life has changed because the new me adapts to every situation and grows from it in different ways. there isn’t simply one part of me that i could point out that has been an obvious change. my development has been subtle, yet sincerely noticeable. it’s kind of contradictory, but, like i said, i don’t know how else to describe it.
i guess you could say i’ve matured, and in the end i owe it all to you. i thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart for everything that you’ve done for me. you saw something in me six months or so ago that i didn’t see in myself. it was something that convinced you i was a worthy contender to go on this trip. you set it all in motion and for that you helped me grow up in a big way. you opened my eyes and my heart to an entirely new world. so i will forever hold a big place in my heart for not only you, mama gloria, but for st. mary kevin as well.
i hope that in a few years that i might be able to go on another trip, if my application is accepted, of course. but for now, good luck with everything and let me know if you ever need anything." - kaley