Oahu is behind me now--5 1/2 weeks of a life that seemed like someone else's. It's funny to not have class this morning, to not walk through the morning rains of the Manoa Valley under the plumeria.
Coffee is right here, right when I want it. And my babies are, too. One of the first things I did was to team up with my boys to scrub the pizza, smoothie, and cake batter from the kitchen walls and microwave.
The Institute was terrific. Challenging on all levels. I thought harder and deeper than I had in a long time. I walked everywhere, did lots of yoga, swam at night with the lights of Waikiki at my feet, the stars overhead.
We had experts. Teachers and speakers from Indonesia, the Netherlands, the East Coast. We learned about Buddhism, Islam, the different practices of Christianity.
We got to know each other, ranged in gender, age, discipline, interest.
We got to know the island: where the best beaches were, where to find the least expensive bread. We lived the politics, the problems, the beauty.
What did I learn? Everyone is asking me.
And, in part because it's everyone's federal tax money that pays for the program, you bet I'll share.
The third fascinating fact is this: that Southeast Asia (10 countries) are the most rapidly expanding region in the world, (in terms of economy, education, politics, religion, authority, industry), yet are severely understudied. This will affect us here in the US with trade, technology, economy, jobs, higher education, and our relationship with China.
#2: Sink all your money into Indonesia. Now. Go! Run! Buy stock, company shares, funds, currency. Seriously. This is the world's 4th biggest country, and it's only getting bigger. While it struggles with gender equity (due to its 88% Islamic population), it is on the verge of becoming a superpower. Watch for it.
And #1: While Southeast Asia and academia are important, they aren't everything. What I found out I love--and want to be--is a well-rounded person. Down-to-earth. Happy. Practical. That what I value being most on this planet is not a scholar, but a wife, a mom. A sister. A daughter. A niece and cousin and aunt. A friend.
So, after you hit up your atlas to see where in the world East Timor is, after you choose between snatching up shares in tire companies or noodle makers, go play Uno. Laugh yourself silly. Fish. Paint. Bring brownies to a neighbor. Cuddle a kiddo. Cry.