Sometimes transformations are less obvious than these photographs would suggest.
Although the image of Matthew Pike seems so vividly different from now, June 2010, to the Matt that arrived in Sweden 10 months ago in August 2009- the inner transformation is equally obvious.
Its easy to share a photograph. There is little to say and it begs the judgment and acknowledgment of those viewing at a very simplistic level. However when one attempts to share the change that has occured in oneself, due to personnal experience and growth, the task becomes a whole lot more complex..
The Matt of August 2009, left everything he was certain of, close friends and family, a familiar home and town and a guaranteed future of three years of University, as he jumped into a year of the unknown, to live with strangers, to challenge his fears and inhibitions and to try and gain some sense and purpose for his future.
When his feet finally landed from the biggest jump he had ever taken, he found himself in some kind of paradise, but many just called it the Youth Initiative Program.
He was surrounded by inspiring like-minded individuals from numerous cultures, he was to be living and studying with these strangers, in a magical place and he felt excited as to what the coming months would bring..
By the time the Matthew Pike of December 2009 appeared out of so many shared moments of smiles and tears, laughter and frustration, inspiration and uncertainty, these strangers had become some of the closest friends he had.
Already the experiences of the COP 15 climate conference, a trip north to experience a true swedish winter, had helped him discover exactly why he was so in love with Sweden and at last made him feel able to share what YIP had already given him– this had all begun igniting many sparks of change within in him as the Matthew of August 2009 and now December 2009 became just memories…
Today the Matthew of June 2010 is smiling. I am smiling because I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude, love and satisfaction for what this year has produced. The strangers I met 10 months ago, became such close friends and as I leave them (temporarily!), each one is now considered my closest family. My experiences since Christmas of Brazil and the Amazon and truly understanding that I had to say no to a guarantee of University, whilst emerging into what has now become known as “YIPculture” has put me where I am speaking to you from today…..
Sorry that the Audio doesnt quite match the visual…! :/