Excuses to travel to countries that I never had even dreamed of seeing.
I'm just back from a Christmas trip to Hungary and Bosnia to visit (some of) the volunteers out that way. It was amazing. I can't stop gushing about the trip, but the most interesting comment about my holiday came in the form of a one liner. I was back at my project for the first time since the holidays, so people were indulging me and my excitement and letting me chat away about it. I told them about Budapest and the baths and the food and I told them about Sarajevo and the mosques and the food. And then I told them about Mostar; I think I told them about the train ride there and how astoundingly beautiful it was, and the quaint old town, and the front line. I explained that the city is pretty much divided by the river: Croats on one side, Bosniaks on the other, with little to no crossing or mixing. My coworker said, "felt like home, huh?"
I noticed that, too, while I was there. In Mostar and in Belfast there's a line, one is water, cutting through a city, deep enough for diving, the other is a wall, made higher every few years and landscaped as a lasting feature of the community. Each of the sides has their own places of worship and football teams to cheer on, thoughts about who the "other" is and a deep pride in who they, themselves, are. And both of the cities also have hope. There are people, local and international, working for change, believing that unified cities can be even more beautiful than cities divided. It makes me feel like a very, very small piece of a HUGE jigsaw puzzle, and it's encouraging to see and learn from the other small pieces around the world.