By Ryan Doucette, Voices @ Bedford High School
Since birth, my life has centered around moving. Every few years my belongings were packed and I embarked on a new chapter of my life. In just sixteen years I have moved seven times, attended nine different schools, lived in six different states…and made countless memories along the way.
Anyone who has moved can tell you: it is no easy task. Like it or not, I grew used to leaving my friends, my school, my community, everything I had come to know. Nonetheless, I count myself lucky. If it weren’t for moving, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Moving has allowed me to make countless friends, many of whom I still talk to frequently, and enjoy many unique experiences which have allowed me to see the world from different perspectives.
More than anything else moving has given me the opportunity to make friends across the United States. Being “the new kid” has taught me to be friendly and outgoing even when I don’t want to be. Introducing myself and meeting other people always brings me out of my shell. Friendships grew daily so that by the end of my father’s orders I had many close friends. So every few years when that day came I would wish those friends the same message I grew up with: “Keep in touch!”
Moving is hard on relationships but I continue to talk with the companions I have made, even after years of living apart. Since I have been forced to adapt to “long distance relationships” I believe I am friendlier and a more effective communicator as a result. One of the most memorable experiences of my year is returning to places I formerly called home and discovering that my old friends still have my back.
I’ve also had the experience of being immersed in different cultures. When I attended school in Hawaii I learned a traditional form of the Hawaiian language from an Oahu local rather than the more typical Spanish studied by kids on the mainland. I learned about the importance of hospitality and community from students whose families had walked that island for hundreds of years.
When I left there and moved 5000 miles away to Connecticut I learned what the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was all about – a lesson that is ever so important to nearly everyone on the east coast! In Connecticut I learned about being not only the “new kid” but also the “military kid” – I was the only student from a military family in the entire school. Despite the tight-knit environment of that community, I was welcomed and made friends.
When I lived in Washington, DC many of the kids I grew close to had also come from different places – not only within the United States but from all over the world. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gave me a first-row seat to observe what life was like for immigrants living in the United States in the 21st century. One of my closest friends came here from Syria. His solemn and distinct connection to the human atrocities in his family’s homeland increased my awareness of how cruel the world can be. Another student who I became close with was the son of an Italian Air Force officer who showed me the perseverance needed to learn English and assimilate into the American culture. If it weren’t for moving, I would have never learned their extraordinary – and sometimes sorrowful – stories. All of this experience has helped me to be a more aware citizen and I think, too, a better person.
Sometimes the hardship of packing and unpacking boxes and making new connections can be irritating but I wouldn’t trade for anything the experiences I have had as a result of changing location. The perspectives gained, lessons learned and relationships built are priceless and I know they will guide me throughout my life. I am grateful for these opportunities. From a young age, moving is all I have ever known and looking back, it is clear to me that I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Ryan Doucette, Class of 2021
Ryan arrived in Bedford last year and lives at Hanscom Field with his family. His father serves in the Coast Guard. He was born in Portland, Maine and has lived in a variety of places including Fairfax City, Virginia; Kailua, Hawaii; Guilford, Connecticut; Fort Dix, New Jersey and Vienna, Virginia. Through it all, he has remained a “huge Boston sports fan.” He describes himself as “politically active” and attributes that to the grandfather who got him involved with politics at an early age. In November he worked for the re-election of Governor Charlie Baker. At this point, Ryan believes political science, communications or journalism will be his area of study after he graduates.