“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
It’s time. Transition time. Transitions are always an interesting opportunity to ponder, feel, and reflect. I have a wonderful life here in Colombia and I am about to leave it. I will definitely return, but it will never be the same. Despite the daily inconveniences of living in an overpopulated city, I truly love my life here. It is full of magic (about three shows a week), incredible friends and students (magic and Enlgish), the most unstructured time I have ever had in my life, a wonderful girlfriend, and travel. I could not have asked for anything else. At the same time, I also feel ready to move on to the next chapter in my life. Transitions are usually a mixed bag of emotions- I am really looking forward to what lies ahead and at the same time, I feel a sense of loss to leave what I have created here.
Things are truly winding down. I leave Colombia on June 5th. Johanna and I will be taking a vacation from the 24th until June 1st, so next week is my last full week here in the city…yikes!
Thursday was my final day at the university. My time there was a positive experience despite all of the inconveniences that go with being the first native language teacher at a public Colombian University. I learned to be patient and I also learned that teaching English is not a passion of mine although I value the importance of English programs in developing countries. My final formal duty at the university was to give a 30 minute magic show/lecture to 200 first semester students. Not a bad way to go out.
Last Thursday, I said my good-byes to our Findesin magic students. These girls are having some difficulties with practicing and focus. It has been frustrating, but not different from how things started with the Bella Flor Club 10 months ago. Last Thursday, we held our first monthly class with these girls at Richard Sarmiento’s world-renowned magic school: Escuela de Artes Magicas. We are hopeful that this will help with some well-needed enthusiasm and energy in the club.
This Tuesday will be my last day with my students at Bella Flor. This will be a tough goodbye- the Magic Club is in such a wonderful state. I am so proud of the childrens’ progress and I will miss them very much. Oscar, the full-time computer teacher at Bella Flor told me that he has spoken with each of the children in the Magic Club and it was a general consensus among them that “the Magic Club was a turning point in their lives.” He also told me that directors and teachers of the foundation (consists of 160 children) have commented that “The Magic Club was the highlight of the last year in our Foundation.” Hearing Oscar’s comments, made me reflect on how special this has been for not only me, but for these kids, and for the foundation as a whole. His comments almost brought tears to my eyes.
Two weeks ago, we brought our Bella Flor magic students to Vista Hermosa Hospital for the first time. This was my dream from day one. I am so happy that it became a reality. The Bella Flor students are going to continue to visit the hospital each week. We will rotate and have two or three students go each week with one teacher (Carlos or Jorge), while the rest of the students stay at the foundation to continue studying with the other teacher. The hospital is only 15 minutes from the foundation and the bus to get there and back is actually free. My long-term goal with this is that in one or two years, when the kids mature enough, they will be responsible for managing the hospital magic program. Our students were seeping with pride and empowerment when they walked out of the hospital after performing there for the first time. I feel that they are beginning to truly understand the power of sharing magic with others.
I have begun the long process of applying to medical school. I am happy with my decision to take this two year gap between undergrad and medical school. Having the time to let freedom take me on adventure has been more rewarding than I could have ever dreamed. The best part: I still have India and who knows what after that before med school starts! With that said, it has not been all rainbows and butterflies. My first few months with the Bella Flor Club were overwhelming- I often questioned what I was doing. I stuck with it and the children have truly began to flourish. I have learned to trust the process. Through persistence and patience, the most difficult experiences can turn into the most rewarding ones.
Oscar from Bella Flor also told me that, “These children you have been teaching truly believe in magic- they seem to be spreading their beliefs to the rest of the kids in the foundation.”
I will be home on June 13th after a week in Mexico City visiting my roommate from the first half of the year, Isaac. I will most likely be leaving for India in mid-August. During my time back home, I plan to continue performing like I have here in Colombia. If you or someone you know is planning an event, consider spicing it up with magic! 10% of what you pay will go directly back to Magicians Without Borders. I also plan to host a few shows/talks while home to share more about my experience and fund-raise for my next stint in India. Thank you for your support- without it none of this would be possible.
See you soon! I am so looking forward to summer in the beautiful Northwest. It doesn’t get any better.
Also, for those of you who speak a little Spanish, here is the link (click on image) to my 30-minute interview on the national radio that aired about three weeks ago. This was aired on Dr. Santiago Rojas’ radio program called “Sana-mente” (he is the incredible doctor I have been studying with). They introduced me as a world-renowned magician (a bit of a stretch- being a Gringo here can go a LONG way).