By Jerrica Ching
Last week I took advantage of a low-priced airfare special to fly back home to Hawaii for about six days. It was a very short trip, yet with leafless trees, an earlier sunset, and temperatures gradually dropping, those six sunshine-filled days with my family and friends made it all worth it. Many of my classmates at George Fox were jealous when I mentioned I’d be going home for an extended weekend. “You’re going to paradise!” and “Bring back some sun for us!” were common remarks amongst them. Although Hawaii is thought of as a paradise to many, to me it is my home, and sometimes going home can be a bit challenging.
The majority of my friends now have full-time jobs, meaning that the time we can spend together is limited to the weekends. My younger brother and sister are both in college and have full class loads, part-time jobs, and other extracurricular activities. I was overjoyed when my mom announced that she had taken time off during the first few days of my trip, because usually my time with her is limited during weekdays. I was able to squeeze in some lunches with my grandparents and cousins as well. When I was still an undergraduate and had friends coming home for the holidays, I was usually the one with the full class schedule or part-time job. Now that the roles have been reversed, I understand the frustration that comes with having so much free time, but not being able to spend it at the times you would like, with the people you care most about.
During the times that I was out and about with my family and friends, I asked myself, What would my life be like if I had stayed home? I could see my family and friends whenever it pleased me, eat all of the delicious food that my dad cooks to my satisfaction, and wear shorts all year long. I could be comfortable being in familiar surroundings.
Comfortable – that’s the word that reminds me why I decided to embark on this educational journey to Oregon. I wanted to continue learning and to continue growing in an environment that would make me slightly uncomfortable. I felt that I would not have a chance to understand my full potential and discover everything that I am truly capable of unless I placed myself in a situation that was different and new. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I have faith that even though I wonder about how my life could be different, I made the right decision to move to Oregon. Although it is never easy to say goodbye to friends and family, these challenges are all part of a much larger picture. Being away from home isn’t permanent, and I find comfort in knowing that eventually I’ll move back when the time is right.
When I first thought about graduate school, I hoped that my move to Oregon would allow me to learn and grow. After 2-½ years, I know that I have definitely learned a lot academically and have grown a lot personally. Even though I cannot see where I’m going to end up, I am certain that I am on the right track. Being away from home has some challenges, but I have faith that I’m where I need to be.
Jerrica K.F. Ching is in her third year of study as a Marriage, Couples and Family Counseling student at George Fox University. She received a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Dance from The University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is currently researching the racial ideologies of colorblindness and multiculturalism, and the implications these hold for counselors-in-training who strive to be culturally sensitive clinicians.