Two Decades, Two Continents. A Journey.

As I fill out my passport application on a sunny Bay Area weekend, I think back to the fifteen-year-old adventurer with her first, and only, passport picture (Азаматтығы/гражданство/nationality: Kazakhstan) taken for the first time in Uralsk in preparation for her travels.

In May, 1997, this fifteen-year-old had seen the rolls of perforated paper tape but had yet to touch a computer keyboard. She was excited to see the world.

She spent her school years learning two languages besides her own, quoting an encyclopedia, diving into mathematical formulas and graphs, and absorbing the contents of her home and town library because learning everything she could about the universe around her made her very happy.

Looking back at my younger self, I believe she would be proud of what I’ve accomplished in life so far.

Since then, I’ve wandered the streets of Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, seen the rainbow flags of The Castro up in the city, heard the music echo in the Fox Theater in Oakland, looked over the Grand Canyon and biked the trails by the Bay. I’ve learned how to greet people in Spanish and how to write a computer program in Scala.

Twenty years would pass until I had an opportunity to take a picture for another passport. But now I can.

Just like that fifteen-year-old, I still want to see the world.

Passport photo taken in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, in 1997.

Passport photo taken in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, in 1997.