Monday, November 28, 2011

Africa: Excitement and Anxiety

          Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot to say about my preparations for Africa.  Why?  Because I don’t think I have been preparing nearly enough!  And I’m probably worrying about finances and technicalities a bit too much.  This trip is about adventure, helping others, and learning after all!
          To go back a bit towards the beginning, I began getting this idea of traveling to Africa in my head in late spring, after I realized that moving to another state may not be part of my current path.  However, I still had the yearning for a philanthropic and worldly experience.  (Side note:  I was worried when Sandi went on her summer excursion that other people would feel they need to do the “exact” same thing, which would not be true.  But, if you read Sandi’s blog, she explains things well how everyone is on their own adventure.  Basically, I believe everyone should have some experience where they are out of their comfort zone, challenged, or have some unique learning experience…but everyone learns in their own ways, is on their own path, and has their own purpose.  It is not about searching for yourself (you are constantly in the state of “I am”…how you act at any moment is you!), but to make yourself grow to be better). Anyway…why Africa?  Because it’s crazy, extreme, beautiful, and I’ve always wanted to go on a mission’s trip.  Plus, I really do believe that this will further me on my path to help kids in the US learn about compassion and live their dreams.
I knew paying for the trip would be difficult… especially after graduating from college.  Admittedly though I have been blessed in several ways, plus I did not go on a Senior Trip or waste hundreds of dollars on alcohol… but I had one deal breaker: Burning River 100.  In an Ohio Sports & Fitness article with Sandi, it stated my race goal (which Steve told me was a bit of a bold move…but I really didn’t care):  I wanted to place in BR, and use all that I won towards my down payment  and program fees for Africa.  With all that I have been blessed with, I was able to place 2nd female.  I was going to Africa! 
I signed up with Cross Cultural Solutions shortly after I got my check in the mail, choosing Jan 7th as my departure date, partially because it was after Xmas and the end of my job at United Way (right before BR I also got the great news I got a temp job at the United Way of Greater Cleveland), and partially…okay a big part…because I’d miss much of the crappy Ohio winter weather.  
If I can, I'd also like to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Why? Because it’s there.  But if I don't get to do it, that's okay too.  I don't think it's going anywhere soon.
So in the past few months, what have I been doing to get ready? 
Well, I ordered plane tickets, my passport, VISA, and paid for the majority of my trip. I’ve briefly gone over my hand book and researched on the web.  Still, all I know is Swahili is “Habari” or “Hello”.  I should not wear shorts or tank tops in the village.  I need to wear a skirt that covers my knees at my volunteer sight.  Stopping to talk to someone is more important than making it on time to a meeting.  Like I said before, I’ve also worried too much.  I know I can afford the trip anyway, I’ve just always been extremely frugal when spending money, especially on me…except this isn’t simply on me!  It’s to volunteer, to learn, to help educate others! I need to remember that.  (Plus, I have no idea what I am getting myself into with if I get the chance to climb Kili…I don’t what it is going to be like, what gear I need, everything to pack.  But I have time, I have friends, I can learn what I need to!)
And, I’ll have 2-3 weeks after I finish at UW to research and prepare…so it’s time for me to “chill” and simply be excited for my adventure!  Everything will work out J
I also want to send out a HUGE thanks to everyone who has supported me and donated money for this trip.  I am extremely grateful. Asante!
Happy Adventures!