The older I get, the more I realize that life works in mysterious knowing circles.
With an invisible current, life brings you to where you need to be.
So here I am. Back in AMIGOS. Back where it all started.
Back where I began.
A year ago, I found myself applying improbably for a job in fund development with AMIGOS. The whole process took me down a personal history wormhole.
I unpacked recollections long stored. In taking them out, I experienced rushes of memories… people, places and events that I had tucked away into my personal attic corners. As every memory opened, I kept shaking my head at the pure daring of it all.
I lived almost dreamlike in a small village in Durango for 8 weeks and helped to build latrines. I don’t think I was very good at it but I still pass by bags of cement at Hope Depot with a knowing smile.
The following summer in Ecuador was so completely different that it has rather obliterated the memory of my first summer.
We were a group of twenty teenagers forging rivers, riding donkeys and hiking jungles to vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies. If you were ever on a similar project, you may recall the projectile urination tendencies of our less than happy recipients. That memory is oddly joyful and again has me marveling at the indescribable audacity of what we did.
I went back to Ecuador again, this time as route staff for the same audacious rabies vaccination program. Being route staff looked slightly glamorous to me at 19 years old. In fact, it is a responsibility not taken lightly. I worked harder than I ever have and took the following year off.
But here is the truth about being a young person in AMIGOS.
You are trained and prepared to take on anything and so you know you can. No one believes in you more. No one trusts you more.
I had to go back. I wanted that trust one more time and so I returned back to where I started. I became the project director of latrine construction program in Michoacán, Mexico.
I was now a tested and seasoned 21 year old. Practically an elder, I was responsible for fifty teenagers, 8 route staff and two very competent Assistant Project Directors. Aside from the unfortunate lice and scabies epidemic of our midterm retreat, the whole summer floated by on the capable shoulders of our remarkable participants and leadership team.
I was done. It was time to move on and gain the trust of the world on what I had learned and what I could do.
I did not look back. I moved into the world as I was trained to do. I looked at most every challenge with delighted eyes and a theme song playing in the background. I travelled the world, worked in international education and raised a family. The delight never dimmed and the music never stopped.
And it was not until last year when I looked back. I backwards mapped my life and found the place when the music started and the audacity began. It is here in AMIGOS with these brave people who train and trust and believe that a young person can do anything.
With older eyes, I look at AMIGOS and I am both proud and humbled. I believe that AMIGOS is one of the most courageous organizations in the world because of their fierce uncompromised belief in youth. In a world where anxiety can define our parenting and youth culture, AMIGOS stands alone and above that fear. It has remained for fifty years a place where audacity thrives and theme music plays on.
So here I am, years later and back to where it began. Delighted and undaunted at what we need to do to keep AMIGOS relevant and available for the next fifty years of youth. The theme music plays on and we will find a way to get it done.
I sincerely hope this post finds you delighted and undaunted in your adventures as well.