I've been trying to articulate the vibe or aura or mystique that Russia has had for me that might not be totally clear to anyone else. I'm fascinated by the opportunity to go. I'm literally brimming with anticipation over what I might learn and see and hear and eat. There are still times I have to pinch myself. I cannot believe I am actually going.
But it seems that a lot of other people can't believe I'm actually going either. I don't know whether it's a generational thing or what...but a lot of the older crowd (and others) think I'm nuts, apparently. And because I greatly respect a lot of the older crowd (and others), it is a bit unsettling to hear them say things like "Why don't you go some place safe?" or hear my mother openly worry that I'll be kept there for some real or imagined misunderstanding. This is the same potentially misguided assumption that breeds all the hysteria when something like last week's spy scandal came down. What, you think the Russians (those bad bad baddies) were the only ones spying? Really? 'Cuz we got four of our spies back in that swap. That fact was not so broadly discussed, but yes, it works both ways, y'all.
But this, my friends, is exactly why I want to go. This is the same sentiment that was born into me long ago that mesmerized me. I want to go, see all I can, learn all I can and absolutely devour the experience and then come back and say that it's not what you think. Because to my core, I don't really believe that it is.
More importantly though, I want to be an American ambassador. I want to put my best foot forward and show that we're not all whatever they think Americans are. If they think Americans are anything...my guess is they do, I'm not whatever that is.