When Ray and Verena told me about their plans to gather at The Land and celebrate Chris’ life, my first thought was “Has it really been ten years?” That means that it’s been nine years since I left UCSD to spend a year in Norwich, England, yet it seems as though only half that time has passed. It was while gathering my thoughts for this communication that I realized that this was most likely due to the fact that I haven’t recently thought about my time abroad; writing this letter has given me the opportunity to reevaluate how the experience affected me.
Living in the United States, I think it can be easy to forget that there are billions of other people whose wants, needs, ideologies and lives are different – but not less important – than ours. I’d like to think that spending a year outside this country increased my interest in other (non-American) points of view. Traveling through Europe was also a confidence-building experience; I came away from it knowing that I could take care of myself. Finally, while it is difficult for me to know whether it was specifically my time abroad or just progressing through my 20’s (probably both) that have contributed to the two points above, one thing I know would never have happened had I not gone to England is the friendships I made there. I wish I could say that I was still in touch with all the students I lived with, but seeing the few with whom I still correspond go on to med school/grad school/theater in London/etc. and keeping them apprised of the changes in my own life has been meaningful.
I never had the opportunity to meet Chris. But as the list of scholarship recipients has grown over the last nine years, I can’t help but think that it’s remarkable how much he has continued to touch people’s lives.