I'm leaving my town in a few days. This week I have been visiting a lot of people to say goodbye. It is difficult. I know a few of my friendships can continue and a few people will even come to America. But for most people I know, I probably won't see them again.
Recently, visas to Azerbaijan for most foreign travelers are limited to 7 days instead of the former 30 days. This has really taken away the incentive for family and friends of volunteers to come to Azerbaijan.
I have published 77 posts to this blog and plan to continue for a little while so that I can cover my readjustment to America. But before I go back, I will visit Berlin, Stockholm and Malta for 6 days each, then go to southern Spain and maybe Morocco for 16 days.
My daughter, Kelly, came to Azerbaijan for three weeks in September 2009. While we were traveling in Georgia, she wrote this in her Facebook blog:
I met a Hungarian traveler today who's taking 6 years of vacation (wish I could do that...) and travelling the world through Couchsurfing. He's been on every continent except Antarctica (which he is planning to get to) and has only about 60 more countries to visit until he has been to every country in the world. We met again later in the day while I was eating dinner outside so I invited him to sit down with me. He had so many stories about the different places he had been.
He told me a story someone had told him:
"A young man cared very much about the world, so he decided one day that he was going to change it. The young man worked very hard for 10 years, and eventually he realized that he could not change the entire world. So then he decided that if he could not change the world, he could change his country. For the next 10 years, he worked for his country before realizing that he could never fully change his country.
So he decided to work for his city, and worked for 10 years for his city, but it did not change much. Then, the man decided to change his family. By this time he was 70 years old and did not have the means or the energy to change anything else. In his old age the man realized that when he was young, he should have started by changing himself. By changing himself into what he wanted to be, he could change his family, and his family could change the community, and then the city, and then the country, and then the world."
This story encouraged me to keep being who I am. As Ghandi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I may not be able to change the world in my lifetime, and I'm not out to. Not everyone understands words and listens to speeches. But they can feel your actions.