Hello again! Sorry for the big unexplained hiatus over Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I’ve been traveling with my family since the 26th to Galveston, Texas and Cozumel, Mexico. We returned home late a few nights ago to Boston after flight delays in Houston–with the temperature jumping from 70 and sunny to 30 and slushy. The beginning of a New Year always leaves me feeling a bit conflicted. I love clean starts and the prospect of beginning something fresh, but I have a absolutely horrible time with endings and I was a little sad to see 2013 go. It was an exceptional year in my life and I don’t have my usual unadulterated excitement about 2014 because it’s the year I will graduate from college…which, at the moment, is an utterly terrifying prospect. So, in an effort to avoid thinking about such things until another day, here are the highlights of 2013. I will look back at them fondly from my future home in a box on the side of the road where I will be living after graduation, whiling away the hours as an unemployed post-grad.
JANUARY: At the beginning of the year I started working at the Ohio Historical Society. I had a badge for a job for the first time in my life and I went into work every week when the museum was closed to the public. The first thing to greet me in the morning was a t-rex fossil replica. I got a small taste of a potential job in the history field and a sneak peak into the challenges of operating a non-profit. MARCH: In March, I co-led a Spring Break Mission Team to Fort Bragg, North Carolina on a trip that I created. The trip was approved by the school and was given special recognition by the White House as a National Pilot Program in the hopes that other colleges could do similar mission projects to visit military bases across the country. The trip went nothing like I planned and I learned how difficult it can be to communicate with the American military. Ultimately, I think, our experience was better than I could have hoped or planned for. Instead of spending all of our time on base, we got to see how the town of Fayetteville interacted with its military base through service work. In March, my little sister also got accepted into college, my grant proposal to trek the Himalayas with my friend, Ellie, got approved, and I was accepted into my study abroad program in India in the fall. MAY: In May, I celebrated my 21st birthday in Haiti. I worked with a group of four students and four faculty members at an orphanage in Les Cayes called Proje Espwa. We spent our days helping organize the medical facility and hanging out with the kids and our nights up on the roof of the cement guest house overlooking the entire compound with the most incredible view of the night sky that I have ever seen. JUNE: From May into June, I went to New Orleans with two great friends to help rebuild after Katrina. It was a wonderful trip and I’m counting down the days until I can go back to the crescent city. After my trip to New Orleans, I went with my sister and her friends to Orlando to celebrate their high school graduation in Disney World. JULY: In July, Ellie and I hiked the Helambu trek in Nepal in one of the most challenging experiences of my life. We studied the impact of tourism on rural mountain communities by living it out and staying in tea houses along the hike. Later in July, my family visited our nation’s capital (my first time traveling to DC). We saw a bill being passed by the House of Representatives and visited the monuments by day and night. AUGUST: At the beginning of August, I attended the Interfaith Youth Core Conference in New York City and was inspired once again by the value of interfaith work in our modern society. Mid-August, I set off for Pune, India where I spent the next three and a half months studying during the week and traveling around India on the weekends. It was definitely one of the most impressionable experiences I will ever have and I hope to be able to return next year. DECEMBER: In December I returned home from India and spent the first few weekends visiting family in New York and Connecticut before celebrating Natalie’s birthday and New Year’s Eve in the Gulf of Mexico.
I don’t know how 2014 could live up to this past year, but I don’t doubt that it will. As usual, I am astonishingly grateful for all of the incredible experiences I’ve had and I am constantly aware of the privilege that permits me to do all of these things. I’m hoping for some clarity and direction in 2014 and a wonderful final semester at OWU. I wish you all the best in 2014. I hope it is a challenging year and I hope you are constantly reminded of how complicated and wonderful each day is.
If you’re interested in seeing any of my other photographs from the past year I’ve organized them on this site for posterity: http://rachelvinciguerra.weebly.com/2013.html