As I looked around the class of students this time I knew it would be different. They looked back with kindness, with caring, like I had never seen before. Even the ones who had not met Maya the year before, they knew, and they cared too. I never knew this was possible. Not pity, just deep concern, caring and empathy.
Over the week we had numerous chats about their careers, where they had taught, traveled, and adventured in their young lives. I loved hearing about their lives. They volunteered in African orphanages, served in AmeriCorps, backpacked everywhere, and had the kind of adventures I love to have still.
But something was different for me for the young women. They were no longer strangers to be admired from afar, for in their eyes was Maya. In each of them was the dream of Maya to travel, to help, to care for others, to give. They were living what she dreamed of. And I could no longer see them that other way. I could only see them as my own daughter, as the hopes and dreams of Maya embodied in another beautiful young person.
Your gift to me, Maya. Thank you for this gift.
Maya at the Taj Mahal, 2014