It’s Just the Beginning

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.  ~James Michener”

So I’m going to Africa! I’m leaving in 14 Days! Two weeks to you non math majors out there. Two weeks and I will be boarding a plane in Grand Rapids, departing for my month in Africa. I figured I’d start a blog to serve as my journal for the trip, so anyone who wants to keep up on my trip can. I hear that the internet over there is hit or miss, so don’t be alarmed when I go days at a time without a post. I’m still alive. I promise.

Do you feel prepared?

In short, no. I do not feel the slightest bit prepared! Yes, I’ve gotten all my shots. Yes, I have my passport. Yes, I’ve set up payments with Grand Valley. Yes, I’ve purchased (almost) everything on the packing list. If you were to make a checklist, then yes I am prepared. The real question is am I mentally prepared for this? No. Not one bit.

What are you most nervous/unsure about?

Everything. I am going to miss everyone so much. I am leaving my boyfriend, my friends, my family. I have so many wonderful people in my life here that I am going to miss. I also think this is going to be a very exhausting experience. Only 5 days after returning from Africa, I am going to be going up to a summer camp, which will also be exhausting. I’m a little worried about giving up my whole summer to do these things because in the fall will I feel like I’ve even had a rest? I think both experiences will be very rewarding and wonderful, just very exhausting as well.

There are a million “what ifs” running through my mind. What if I end up having to teach some concept I don’t remember? What if I can’t communicate in Swahili? What if I get sick? What if something happens back here that I miss? What if I don’t get along with the people I’m about to live with? What if I do some cultural taboo and offend everyone? What if I don’t live up to the expectations of being “American”? What if my luggage doesn’t make it? What if it weighs too much? What if I fail?

What are you most looking forward to?

Everything. I know, I know. How can I be nervous about everything and looking forward to everything? I know my fears are irrational. I know that it’s going to amazing. I am so excited to get a chance to teach math! It will be my first experience actually in front of a class of math students. I am really excited to experience a new culture. I loved going to Jamaica and experiencing everything there, and I think Tanzania is going to be just as amazing. I am looking forward to going on Safari and seeing all the animals up close. I can’t wait to see twiga (giraffes), simba (lions), tembo (elephants), kifaru (rhinos), punda milia (zebras), and kiboko (hippos) really close and in the same place. I’ve never seen these outside of the zoo, and let’s face it they’re not that exciting standing in cages. I’m looking forward to making new friends. We are going to be spending four weeks together. Learning together, living together, teaching together, and playing together. I am so excited for the opportunity to get to know 14 new people. I think what I’m most looking forward to, though, is coming home a changed person. I think that this experience is just going to blow my mind. I want to come home and have all these new ideas about teaching. I want to come home and have all these new ideas about living.

I think that’s about it for now. But don’t fret my friends, there is more to come.

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~ by Cassie.Becker on April 19, 2011.

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