"I grew up always moving. But I was sheltered. I didn’t have my own experiences since I was always moving with my family. I wanted to develop my own opinions, and the only way to do so was by getting out of my conservative Egyptian household. The only way out was to travel alone and go somewhere far and unknown. Indonesia seemed like a pretty good place to be isolated a bit and embrace my introspective self. Funny thing is, I picked the most extroverted place in the world to try and be an introvert." - Ayat Abourashed
I met Ayat in Hanoi after being connected through our mutual friend, the one and only, Ryan Kertanis (seems like a trend these days). The two of them had stayed connected after meeting during a Fulbright event/ training in D.C. over the summer. When Ryan heard that Ayat was traveling to Hanoi he knew we had to meet. Well we did, and it was great. I spent my Christmas Eve with Ayat in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, exchanging stories of our travels. I learned a lot from listening to the highlights and hardships that she spoke about in terms of traveling. Ayat is another recipient of a Fulbright ETA, and therefore she'll be teaching English in Indonesia for a year- and maybe longer.
I have now had the experience to meet Fulbright ETA's from both Mongolia and Indonesia. Although they are a part of the same program, their experiences seem to differ tremendously due to the varying challenges present in their respective countries.
I admittedly might have lost track of my intention to post about women during my travels... I got so caught up in the "making friends" part that I forgot to start asking them to be involved in my women travel blog. With the inauguration having just passed and the tremendous turnout at women's marches around the world, wiped off my sunken shoulders and thought "duh, I can do something too from Vietnam." So don't worry, I remember now, and I will be posting about many women in the weeks to come.
I leave for Laos with my housemate, Alyssa, in a couple days. Unless I find a computer to use there, please expect a lot more posts about inspiring women upon my return to Hanoi.