one of the most memorable parts of my [amanda's] trip home in may was the chance to attend my graduate school graduation in pennslyvania.
for the past two years i have been studying international development through a residency-based program out of eastern university. the program is geared towards people already working in humanitarian/development in the field, so my classmates were spread all around the globe (ghana, jordan, south africa, swaziland, guatemala, mozambique & the usa). thankfully we got to spend nearly a month together in stellenbosch, south africa in 2009 & another almost month together in kampala, uganda in 2010.
i learned a lot from my classes about the technical & theoretical side of humanitarian work, but i consider myself really blessed to have learned from the personal stories and experiences of my professors and my dear, dear classmates. they are people who realize that they cannot look at a world full of poverty, suffering & hopelessness & do nothing. the way their faith has infused their lives & their work & the beauty, passion & sacrifice they've all displayed while working with people who are poor and marginalized taught me a whole lot more than my textbooks (sorry, todaro & your gini coefficients!) somehow our intense times together in residencies, our online interactions & the grace of God turned us into a community & for that, i am so grateful.
& yes, it does feel good to have a master's degree too!
it worked out really well that eastern university is very close to philly, where my brother benjamin & his girlfriend lindsay live, so we got to have a really lovely (& too short!) visit with them & cedar got to meet his fun aunt & uncle.
this picture is really special to me because i know that i owe a whole lot of this accomplishment to the faithful support of my parents. i also really wish that daniel could have been in this picture. (perhaps i should have photoshopped him in!) because the degree i'm (or actually my dad!) is holding has definitely been a team effort. it represents some academic work on my part, but it also represents so many dinners cooked for me, weekends & evenings without a computer or a wife to hang out with, lots of life details handled &also lots of encouragement on daniel's part.
& so, while i enjoyed the process, closing this chapter of my life has also come with a big sigh of relief. school work has been such a big part of my life here in cambodia & so i am excited to move forward to make the most of our time here - to pursue relationships, life & our work here more deeply & hopefully, also to take a lot more naps!
[bonus picture of cedar's first meeting with uncle ben & aunt lindsay]