I did it. I took the plunge I’ve been slowly dipping my toes into for about 4 years. I saved, I researched, I applied, I interviewed. Finally, I have found a way to Africa. My first visit is going to be to Ghana. I am completely freaking out, yes, but I could not be more excited at the same time. I chose to go with The Humanity Exchange for two weeks where I’ll be staying in a hotel with the volunteer group in Axim and working at two 1 week long summer camps with kids. I found the program a few weeks ago and though it was a perfect fit. It seemed like a good way to get a taste of a trip abroad so that I will what to expect when I one day to a more long term travel. I knew 2 weeks would be possible to get off of work and that I am fortunate enough to be in a workplace with the most understanding and supportive boss who is allowing me to explore such a passion of mine which can be hard to find. The hands on experience will not just be about me volunteering, I liked the idea of a summer camp because I know I will be the one learning so much from these kids and their lives. I go back and forth every day with a crowded mind that feels near explosion with thoughts of “What am I going to do with my live? Where am I going to live? How will I ever reach my goals and make a difference?” I sit in my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn many days staring at the window, feeling constrained and claustrophobic at the sight of the many buildings and people crowding around my life. I needed to take a huge step and do something that I know will give me an entirely new perspective and answer the questions that I spend many a night trying to find answers to by Googling hoping that the answer to life suddenly appears in front of me. Yeah right.
Now, there were also a million reasons not to go to Ghana of course. It’s expensive. I could be saving for a longer trip. Is this the right program, is this the right place? I’ve used all of these as excuses to shy away from opportunities to travel abroad in the past. This time I realized, there is never truly a perfect time, and there will always be a reason to go. So, I’ve accepted my invitation to go and am moving through my check list without allowing myself to think too much into the “Oh my God I’m traveling alone to a foreign unfamiliar place what am I doing??” I’m sure that will come at some point, and I surely expect a major freak out because, well, that’s just me. But when that happens, it will be too late. I’ll be going! And it will be worth it. I’ve studied international affairs from many angles, but I of course know nothing compares to witnessing it first hand. Plus, I’ve been carefully budgeting and saving my money forever. What else could I possibly be saving for that would be better than this? All signs pointed to yes, so I decided to dive in.
Now that I’m in, and beyond the point of no return I might add, the craziness has begun. I have a 40 page FORTY PAGE manual of how to arrange this trip. Whew. However, I am making it through more swiftly than originally thought. Today I went to the doctor for a physical just to make sure I’m good all around. While there I got my blood drawn, along with Hepatitis A and Tetanus shots given. My arms are surely sore now and I feel like I have never been slammed into by NYC people as often or as hard as I have today. I also got prescriptions for Malaria tablets, Typhoid Fever, and Intestinal Parasites (let’s hope I won’t be needing to use that one). I then scheduled an appointment with a traveling clinic for a Yellow Fever and Chicken Pox shot-no I’ve never had the chicken pox, no idea how, and it’s really caused more harm than good that I haven’t including now. Those will all happen on Monday. Tonight I made the big step and purchased my plane tickets, now THAT made it real. A major portion of my savings went to British Airways as I will be flying from NYC to London to Accra, Ghana and back.
It’s all coming together and the organization, particularly the team leader seems to be extremely supportive and helpful which makes a world of difference. She actually lives in NYC as well and went on this trip for the first time last year.
My blog will have a shift the next couple months and revolve around this trip and the details it involves and the emotions it causes. I also have to mention the amazing support I’ve received from everyone around me. This makes me feel so much more confident and sure. It was surprising to me when I made the announcement how many people said “I know someone there, where will you be you should meet up.” I even had a few who will be there themselves at the same time! Truly a small world. You all can’t even imagine how much your words and encouragement mean to me. It feels good though. Starting off in a small town, being one of the few who went away to college knowing nobody, then making a move to one of the world’s largest and most intense cities, and now on to Africa! Though I’ve traveled throughout Europe a bit before, I expect this to be a totally brand new experience. Let the countdown begin!
Take a look at the program: http://thehumanityexchange.org/2012/05/ghana-summer-camp-team/