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Middle East Monica Dispatch

What to Think about When You're Waiting Around... A collection of thoughts from Erzurum, Turkey
March 22, 2000

YOU are a unique and special individual, filled with many different talents, gifts, and special characteristics. My dad always shares this with me, and I'm happy to pass that message along to you. I am so glad that you are who you are, especially since I've met some of you through e-mail, your responses to dispatches, or in person. Perhaps one day our paths will cross, but in the meantime, I am happy that your family, friends, classmates, teachers, and all the people who make up your world get to share in your amazing uniqueness and specialness.

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Brian making friends in Erzurum
I bring this up because my teammates and I are here waiting for our Iranian visas, and we all have different ways of dealing with the wait. The team is a diverse and strong group. I am sure you have all had a taste of each of our personality flavors through our dispatches. Being in Erzurum heightens that interesting situation because many, many different people have passed through here on their way to their next destination. These days, the town doesn't have as many tourists as Istanbul or coastal Turkey. In the past, Erzurum has been a crossroads between ancient Persia (Iran), Constantinople (Istanbul) and the north. Soldiers of conquering armies, traders and merchants conducting business, and plain travelers exploring the world have all visited Erzurum, just like us. I think it's neat that Erzurum has been a nexus for unique individuals for about 16 centuries.


unique - special
nexus - connection
critically - carefully

The Worldtrek team certainly has hit many crossroads since we began our trek in 1998! I feel that the traveling, the waiting, the reflecting, and the writing have helped all of us grow into more of who we want to be, both as individuals and as group members. I'm curious to know the changes that others see in me from the last thirteen months of traveling. Recently, I heard via e-mail from two people who knew me from seventh grade, at Ramblewood Middle School. They remembered me and basically wanted to know what's up? What has happened in the past fourteen years, how am I doing now and what am I feeling? I shared with them how I think I'm basically a more enlightened, stronger version of who I was at twelve or thirteen. The last year has definitely been and enlightening and strengthening time.

As you follow us on the trek, and as we share with you many different and interesting people and places, I hope that you'll realize that we trekkers are individuals in various stages of development, too. You might say we are works in progress. We don't know everything, and we're just sharing with you our experiences and those of the people we meet. Our dispatches are just one way of looking at reality. Say you're in the same situation: you would have totally different insights to share, just because you're you. And that's terrific!!

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Being Nutty and Fruity together
I'm learning some really cool lessons about life here in Turkey, waiting to visit our next country. As we enter Iran, the last stop on our Middle East tour, I ask you to read our material critically. You know that we are individuals, so we'll have different and distinct impressions that we'll express to you. Please keep in mind that we're trying to learn life lessons too, and we're not the only resource or reference material we write about. We are learning so much everyday and hearing from old friends and new friends like you keeps us in check!

If two middle school friends dialed you up on the cyberphone fifteen years from now, how will you explain what's up? Where do you see yourself? What would you like to be doing? How would you like to be feeling? Do you think people would be surprised at the changes? Would they not be surprised, because you'd be the same?

I'd like to know what you're thinking, what challenges (besides waiting along with us) you're facing, and what life lessons you as an individual have learned. You have many things to offer. I encourage you to listen to that inner voice that guides you and leads you towards the right answer in each situation, especially when you face obstacles. Until next time, think ahead and thanks for thinking of us!!! Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming dispatches from Iran!!


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

Abeja - When Fertile is not Fertile Enough
Abeja - With a Name like "Glorious Urfa," It's Got to be Good!
Andrew - One World, One Love: How a High School Girl from Japan Changed Turkey
Andrew - Tired of School? Here's an Alternative: The Street Children of Ankara
Brian - Prince for a Day: Exploring the Beauty of the Princes' Islands
Kavitha - The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!
Team - Amnesty International fights for Human Rights in the United States

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