Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hello Again...

I've decided to start blogging agin, in part because I'm heading off on another adventure. I don't know if this is necessary, but it seemed like maybe I should give a little explanation of how I got from the last blog entry to this one. Maybe I just want to explain the last few months to myself.

Visiting Taiwan for Deaflympics opened my eyes to the larger world. I knew that I wanted to travel, but while I was in college, I couldn't quite figure out how to make it happen. I thought about a semester in Australia. I tried to convince my parents that I should spend spring break helping baby turtles in Costa Rica. I considered going to Turkey with the USAD soccer team. Nothing was clicking.

Then, one day, I read about a volunteer program at the Thanda Wildlife Refuge in South Africa. They needed people to take photographs of animals and to help with other projects. Something about this program called to me. Despite some concerns about malaria, AIDs, and other safety issues, I convinced my parents that this would be a good experience after I graduated from college.

When I left for Thanda in May of 2012, I didn't really know what I was getting into. I just knew that, after four and half years of studying, I wanted to do something completely different. I wanted out of my comfort zone.

My time volunteering in South Africa was everything I hoped for--and more. I fell in love with Africa. I don't know whether it was the people, the wildlife, the land, or the work. I just loved everything about the month I spent in Thanda. I got to do so many different things--photography for research and the database at the nature reserve, community projects including working with children, and conservation work including learning how to use a machete to hack out invasive plants. Somehow these experiences added up to the most rewarding month I have ever had in my life. Ever since I left Africa on June 24th, there hasn't been a day without Africa in my mind.

And now I'm going back. It took a while to save up what I'll need for the program, but I did it and I'll leave at the end of the month. This time, I want to record and share more of what I see, feel, and learn while I am in Africa. I'll be away for three months, and I know I'll miss some good times--an engagement party for a special friend, St. Patty Day, the annual Rugby Fish Fry, several important birthdays. I know life here won't stop while I'm away.

I also know that going back to Africa feels like what I am supposed to do. It's hard to explain why I feel this way. Maybe that's why I wanted to start this blog again. Something about being Africa is really important for me. I want to figure out what that is. You're welcome to come along for the journey.

P.S.--I don't know exactly when I will post because Internet access in Africa will be unpredictable.

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