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  • Writer's pictureToby A. Cox

A Year of Lessons Learned and Seeing It All Come Together

Updated: Jul 28, 2019

Public speaking has never been my most favorite thing in the world ... but it's growing on me. Last Thursday I presented my project on the National Geographic stage to more than 360 people and, although I was very nervous, I was grateful for the opportunity to share with so many people what I learned these last 9 months.

The presentation itself was 10 minutes long. Last summer, during our orientation, when we were told about this presentation, I remember thinking - 10 minutes!? How could I possibly speak for that long about something? One year later, preparing to give this presentation, I had the opposite problem - 10 minutes?! How can I sum everything up in only 10 minutes?

When preparing for this presentation, I didn't know where to begin. I ultimately decided to share with people my journey in trying to understand religious identity in Kyrgyzstan and the challenges and epiphanies I had along the way. This story centers around the people I've met who have changed my life and forced me to look and think deeply about where our ideas of identity come from.

Sharing the stage with these 4 amazing storytellers was truly an honor!

I was incredibly grateful to those who came last Thursday to support me, including my mother, father, and sister,

so many of my wonderful friends from Peace Corps,

AND the Kyrgyz Ambassador to the United States.

This evening marked the end of this fellowship and although I was relieved to have the presentation over with, I also felt a little sad.

Luckily, more is to come! Stay tuned for more stories, maps, and photos :)

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