Three months in South Africa...I am excited and a little nervous. This is definitely the longest time I will have been out of my home country. Because the people at Thanda are always changing, I won't know many people when I get there. Some people seem to think I'm brave for doing this. Some people probably think I've lost my mind. I think it's safe to say this is completely out of my comfort zone. But that's kind of the point.
When I think back on it, my best experiences have always come when I stepped out of the "Safe Zone." In elementary school, I was sheltered at a safe school with a deaf program. When I transferred to a mainstream school where I was the only deaf student, it was hard but I learned so much more about the world and about myself.
In college, I decided against playing soccer at a Division Three school. Division One was tough--I got cut from the team--but the experience I got there allowed me to be on the Deaflympics team that won gold in Taiwan.
That trip now looks "safe" because I was with a team, so all the travel decisions were pretty much made for me. Going to South Africa the first time was a stretch because I had to figure out a lot of things for myself. On that trip, I was nervous about whether I could find my way around an international airport and whether I could do what volunteers needed to do.
And now, I'm going to stretch again. Three months is a long time, but I feel like it will give me growing room. I want to get the most out of my life. I want to make a difference in the world. I don't think I can do those things in the "Safe Zone." So I'm stepping away from what's comfortable and predictable.