Sentiments are important to me. I never realized how emotional I was until I spent a few months surrounded by the art of Paris – the beauty of the humanity I met face-to-face. My most vivid memories are the ones that I wouldn’t have expected, and I feel so much coming back to me full circle. I experienced much of the past and the present intersecting when I least expected it, and oftentimes it hit me out of left field and left me really questioning my position within the multiple societies in which I’ve made a home for myself. It’s kept me wondering if I am a good person, if I am doing the right thing – how I could be better.

When I think about my world, I sometimes get trapped in these black holes of what it means to actually live in a society – what it means to possess a truth.

What does it mean to have a truth? Is it tangible? Is it something we can take ownership of?

What is my truth?

At the end of the day, we all have the same needs. We need to feel loved. We need to be fed. We need to have an identity, a reason to get up each morning, a few hours of sleep each night. How many people are awarded that? Does it change?

I still don’t know the answers to these questions, and I don’t know that I ever will, but I know one thing to be very true: community is important. The places I’ve met that feel like home, I know it is a result of my community. I had this interesting flashback the other day from when I used to babysit for a family in Philadelphia. This family taught me a lot about how to be a respectable person. I remember a small lecture that the patriarch of the family gave to his daughter about community. He was currently placing a few hundred dollars in an envelope as a donation to her charter school, and she didn’t understand why he was giving so much more than what the school had originally asked for, and he said, “when you take care of your brothers and sisters – they take care of you. They take care of your children. And the cycle keeps going. The society I want for myself and for my children is one in which people feel an obligation towards each other.” I remember thinking that this was the best possible explanation that I really ever heard for generosity and community thinking.  

I really felt like France’s society possessed this same mindset, and that was something I was constantly learning from because I’m unsure whether most of my society feels the same way, and it makes me nervous. I’ve decided to pay closer attention to where I live in the hopes, and with the intention, that I can make it better.

The culture of UNESCO is also really community based. So much so, that my coworkers pulled together the most amazing, last minute going-away party for me. This meant a lot to me. Everything at UNESCO meant a lot to me, even the work.  It taught me that nothing is impossible when you keep your eyes open and when you have a good team behind you.

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The best team there ever was.

In the meantime, I aim to spread my love as much as I can and to be more observant so I know what areas need more community thinking than others. France, you taught me some important lessons.

I feel really sentimental about this experience. I know that it was a good fit for me, and I am really happy with the experience that I had here. I will miss it so much, but I’m sure my thoughts will take me back when I least expect it – or when I need it the most. 

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Thank you.

-Iva