For a little bit of insight into the past year of my life, I share this number. Twenty-two is the number of US states I have been to since September 2010. Well, the number is actually 23 counting the District of Columbia, which isn’t a state (but should be).
Here they are, in no particular order: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The final four being states I hadn’t been to before.
How is it that I managed to visit nearly half the 50 US states within 12 months? Mostly because I had a temporary job as a traveling recruiter for the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), something similar to AmeriCorps. For six months, between September ’10 and February ’11, I was paid to travel, back and forth from DC (where LVC’s main office is located), to universities across the country, seeking young people interested in committing a year of their lives to intentional community, sustainability, and social justice.
For the job, I traveled via planes, trains, and automobiles; I attended career fairs, some specifically for non-profits/service work; held a few information sessions; sat at tables during lunch time; met with campus ministries; contacted career centers at universities LVC had never been to before; and, of course, spent many hours planning travel arrangements, and contacting various people.
It was seriously an amazing (and at times, stressful) series of trips: places in WI, IL, IN, OH in early October; southern CA in late October; MN, IA, and NE in Nov; San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Fargo, ND in early February; TN and GA in late Feb; and many more in between. In the months since returning to Seattle in March, I have traveled quite a bit too, though not nearly as often.
Why does this matter now? In many ways, I have not had the typical year: I left my home in Seattle, packed most of my belongings into storage, and spend half of the six month job living in DC and the other half on the road. Travel has, of course, always been a passion of mine, and I already was well-traveled. This position offered me the unique opportunity to combine work with travel—to talk about an organization I care about, while seeing friends and family along the way.
As I reflect on what it will mean to leave the country for 2 years, I am grateful for all the time to see cities, family, and friends across the country I would otherwise have not been able to see in a year’s time, and could not afford to see now.
The travel in twenty-two states (plus DC) stirred discernment within me, and the decision to apply for global mission became clear just days after returning to Seattle in March. Global mission had been on my mind for a number of years, and I realized this was the time to go for it.
So tonight I give thank to a stressful, yet amazing year of opportunity, blessing, and travel, and look forward to the years to come.