It’s been about a year and a half since I first began my Swain adventure, and I truly have a hard time wrapping my head around all that’s happened since that adventure commenced. It’s incredible to think about how much we change as people during these transitional moments; the game-changers, as my Mom often says. We’re sort of slapped in the face with a whole lot of truth, whether we’re suitably equipped for it or not. It’s the universe saying, “Okay, ready or not, here I come!” It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But it’s also rattling. It’s gracefully aggressive. It’s a roller coaster ride I willingly, over-ardently signed up for, having no idea what that ride would entail. But man, am I grateful to be on it.
Thinking back to the beginning of this journey is something I often catch myself falling into. It’s almost silly to imagine some of your closest friends as strangers; to think you’d ever question yourself around them – to worry they may judge you. I had no idea that every person I met would eventually change my life – that every day was catapulting me into purpose and meaning.
The very first teacher to introduce herself to me was Miss K(leppinger). I’ll never forget our exceptionally comfortable foundation as I was taking on the overwhelming task of trying to make the theatre studio my own late into an August night. We now joke that she’s become my “scarecrow,” referencing Dorothy’s first friend in Oz. We immediately clicked, found our banter, and fell into a permanent rhythm that’s still kept it’s pace. If you had asked me what I loved about her that night, I’m not so sure I’d be able to fittingly articulate it. Her humor? The ease you feel in her company? Sure, maybe. Now, however, 15 months later, I think I can be a bit more specific.
Miss K is a lover of people. She is an enthusiast of things. All things. Tangible things, experience things, conversational things. She’s the first to reply, “I’m in!” to any offer you send her way. She’s the first to ask you how you’re doing and genuinely mean it. She always hugs longer. If you need a hug, she’s your girl. Seriously – she won’t let go. She’s the person who’s typically first in line to help – in whatever way that means. She asks you to go to breakfast just for fun – before school. She shows up early. She stays late. She’s not in it for what she gets out of it. She’s in it because she’s in it. Most importantly, and to bring this paragraph full circle, she seriously, unapologetically loves the love out of people. Arguably her best quality out of a very long list of great qualities.
It’s refreshing to be around a person who sees the good in things – who considers the positives. Miss K acknowledges the little things. She tells you how much she loves you and she tells you often. The perfect recipe for an influential teacher such as herself.
That being said, it came as no surprise to me when her notorious “I’m in!” response served to be true when asked about teaching in Africa this summer. “Where and how do we sign up?” The idea came to me shortly after we chose The Lion King as our spring musical this year. In researching the Swahili language, I stumbled upon some volunteer opportunity in Northeast Africa, and thought, why not? I’m a big fan of traveling. And an even bigger fan of eyebrow-raising ideas – so this seemed like the all-inclusive union. After months of research, we’re now accepted into our program, placed together, and set to teach in the Nairobi neighborhoods of Kenya beginning June 21st. How far we’ve come since that August introduction. To think we could have said, “Nice to meet you, should we talk about our layover in Tanzania?” A laughable thought to think of your inner-circle as strangers indeed.
I can’t wait to voyage with Miss K. To see her people-loving lens on the world come to life and be put to such powerful, significant use. There are so many beautiful humans on this Earth, and I hope to be more like Miss K when I have the opportunity to love. To see every opportunity as an opportunity to love; to make a difference in someone’s day just by being the first to hug and the last to let go.
Here’s to transitional moments. Here’s to replying “I’m in!” I hope you feel loved today in the way Miss K would want you to feel loved. This is only the beginning of our journey, so stay with us!
- Miss Bocian