by Kris McGuffie MANPTS '19

Illustration of woman on boat
Kris McGuffie, reflects on the currents that transported her through two Middlebury degree programs and into a new field. (Credit: Jasu Hu )

Perhaps you have felt it before: a clear insight, appearing as a flash of images or words that lands as if delivered from a wise friend. As you take action from that place of knowing, you allow yourself to be swept up with trust in the veracity of your idea. The decision to act on the faith of this insight feels like traveling in a current.

On each of the three occasions I have selected Middlebury as a place to be, to learn, and to grow, I’ve done so not just as an intellectual choice but also as an intuitive one. I felt a pull that I could not fully identify, feelings of certainty that I could not shake.

This current has transported me through two degree programs and into my new field. In this current, I have met the most significant people in my life. I fell in love and established a partnership that marked its 23rd year this fall. Many of my dearest friends are people I came to know through Middlebury. While it is common to forge connections while pursuing higher education, what is uncommon and distinctive is the quality of those relationships. My Middlebury community has helped me to weather loss, despair, and disappointment. This community has enable me to find humor in stress, clarity in confusion, and vitality in dysfunction.

On each of the three occasions I have selected Middlebury as a place to be, to learn, and to grow, I’ve done so not just as an intellectual choice but also as an intuitive one. I felt a pull that I could not fully identify, feelings of certainty that I could not shake.

I entered Middlebury College as a teenager and left as a young adult, steeped in the social sciences, in literature, and in writing. Middlebury helped me learn how to think and how to grow into myself. When I returned to Middlebury, by way of its vibrant Institute, the current guided me into the international sphere. I immersed myself in the Summer Intensive Language Program (SILP), building a foundation in Arabic and preparing myself for two whirling years of intense study within nonproliferation and terrorism studies and a regional emphasis on the Middle East. A the Middlebury Institute I garnered insights about how to approach some of the most troublesome challenges plaguing our planet.

I have continued to move within the current now as an Institute employee at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism (CTEC). The flow is faster, the water is deeper, and the connections to the big-hearted, passionate, and good-humored people I’ve found in this current have multiplied exponentially. It’s a privilege to experience Middlebury as a staff member, serving the students and the larger institutional mission. My colleagues at the Institute carry a unique set a qualities I’ve come to love - they are individuals who focus on contribution and connection, dedicated to serving a larger purpose through their work in the world. 

The flow is faster, the water is deeper, and the connections to the big-hearted, passionate, and good-humored people I’ve found in this current have multiplied exponentially.

When we are carried by a current, we don’t always know our precise destination. We place trust in the current itself and in our own abilities to navigate within it. We may forecast the many destinations we could find before we are finally carried to shore, but the experience is one of moving toward the indefinite and unknown. The current I travel within now is carrying me into waters I had previously only imagined myself within. I’ve set my sights on a distant shore, and I trust this journey to be replete with people I’ve been destined to meet for a long time now. I will now them by the character of their hearts and the quality of their minds.

For More Information

Eva Gudbergsdottir
eva@middlebury.edu
831.647.6606