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Having a spectacular spiritual sojourner, Melinda, during my YASC year in Westford, MA was critical to my staying in the program and undergoing so much personal growth. During my eleven months with her we bonded intensely and she became one of my most trusted confidants. We spoke freely about my struggles and failures and she helped me forge a path forward that both helped me keep my sanity and also expanded my character.

Even though we’ve been apart for two and a half years now, we still keep in touch and would video chat while I was abroad. Tonight, I was thrilled to finally get to meet up with her in person after so long – and our meeting didn’t disappoint.

One of the things I adore most about Melinda is her ability to ask incredibly powerful questions that evoke a deep response. Her questions resonate within my core, making me stop to think and evaluate things I had never given pause to before.

Tonight she asked me many questions, but the one which will continue to stick with me long after this trip ends is this one: “What broke you?”

Think about that – really think about that question.




After she posed the question, I sat for a minute at our dinner table and took a deep breath while I gathered my thoughts because, during my time in Central Europe, so many things broke me.

The physical and emotional distance that is the cultural norm in Hungary.

How no matter what context I was in, some part of my identity was always being judged as problematic.

The fact that I got lice twice and honestly thought I was going to lose my mind.

Those everyday micro aggressions from Hungarians that made me feel unwelcome and unwanted in the city that I came to call home.

The vulnerable and heartbreaking stories that my beneficiaries and friends at Kalunba shared with me, and the knowledge that, in most cases, I could do nothing to fix their problems or their wounds.

Being laughed at in stores, restaurants, and on public transit because people thought I couldn’t understand what they were saying about me.

I adored my two years in Hungary, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t break.

I broke almost every day.

But I also learned how to put myself back together, each time a little stronger than the last. Until Melinda asked me that question I hadn’t really thought about just how powerful a trait that is – that I learned how to put myself back together, and that I surrounded myself with people who helped me in that endeavor every day.

So today I want to give my most sincere thanks to Melinda, for always pushing me to delve deeper. And I also want to thank everyone during my time abroad that helped me put myself back together. There are too many folks to name them all, but you know who you are.

And now I ask you – What broke you?