10. The experience expanded my world-view and allowed me to gain a better understanding of the complexity and universality of the world.
9. I fell undeniably in love with travel and exploration and haven’t been able to stop venturing abroad since.
8. I experienced generosity and hospitality at an amazing level, which taught me to be more giving.
7. I saw first-hand the possibility that peace can exist (and has and does exist) between Israelis and Palestinians as Ramon and I celebrated Christmas in Bethlehem alongside Israelis, Palestinians, Germans, Africans and so many others from around the world, who celebrated together in an atmosphere of love and hope.
6. I gained confidence and strength as I journeyed through various parts of the Middle East alone.
5. I learned Arabic (though I must admit 10 years later, it is quite rusty and lost in the depths of my brain waiting to be recovered from years of storage).
4. I am now able to share my experience with others and breakdown many stereotypes and misconceptions that exist about the Middle East and Islam.
3. I decided that my life should be lived as a peacemaker.
2. I met amazing people who taught me a variety of wonderful things about life and gained a few lifelong friends.
1. And, of course, I met and fell in love with Ramon, who ended up being my partner in life, love, work, art and so much more. I feel so blessed to spend each day working together to grow our non-profit, to teach the arts to children, to push our creative abilities through filmmaking, to (now) be starting a family together, and to have his support and love in all that I do and to return that support and love. Being together makes each of us better.
I’m sure, there are many other ways that my trip to Egypt changed my life, but these 10 are stick out, and I am certain that when I went to Egypt, I never imagined that all of this would be the result, but I am definitely grateful that it was.
*Though it is 2009, this year for me is the year of “Ten’s” or at least a year when grouping things in Ten or thinking about things in groups of Ten has been (and continues to be dominant):
- Ramon, my wonderful life partner, and I will be celebrating 10 years together in December, at which point we should have just celebrated the birth of our first child (expected to arrive around Nov. 5)
- My documentary, “Ten,” which has been swirling around in my brain for almost two years, is finally really taking shape and I am applying for development funding for the project; the application is due on the 1st day of the 10th month
- I recently did a writing/visualization project a friend sent me that involved selecting 10 things I wanted (and there are many more examples of Ten's in my life.