Friday, July 20, 2007

And so it begins...

So here goes... my first attempt at blogging. Please stick with me through the bumps along the way as I figure all this out but it's pretty exciting to have this to communicate through - to try and get across to people back home what I've been up to but also I think it will be a great thing to look back on to track all of the events and the emotional roller coaster that I am sure will ensue over the next 13 months.

Today marks the end of the third week of training. It has been extremely thought-provoking as we have covered topics as philosophical as "What is Poverty?" down to the more practical skills of facilitation and leadership. It's pretty exciting that it is now my job to learn about development, something that I've always been interested in but never able to pursue in such a concentrated way. I'm being pushed constantly to think about new issues in new ways. The rest of the overseas volunteers (OVs), there are 9 of us in total, amaze me with their insights and self-awareness. Despite the awkwardness of the first week or so, we have managed to create a great environment... could be something to do with the squeezed living space and one bathroom, but that's just speculation. It appears the politeness is wearing off as the cracks about my age have just begun but I suppose that's to be expected. It's going to be hard to keep up with these "kids"!

I leave for Malawi in just under 2 weeks. We have an epic journey ahead that has 4 of us leaving on August 1st and arriving 2 days later. We fly through Amsterdam, Nairobi (Kenya), and Harare (Zimbabwe) to Lusaka (Zambia) where we'll be for a few more days of training before 2 of us head on a bus to Malawi. I am excited but nervous as well. I go through phases of being totally overwhelmed to feeling confident and content but I suppose, or at least I hope, that's to be expected. I got a draft of my job description today for WaterAid, the partner organization that I will be working for. Right now it seems quite overwhelming but I have to remind myself that I have double the time that I did in Uganda to get done what I have to accomplish. While it seems scary, it definitely presents a challenge that I am excited to undertake. I think this whole experience is going to test my ability to rely on myself alone, for everything from my emotional sanity (which many of you know has been known to falter and crumble at times) to my daily needs such as food and shelter. While it's nerve-wrecking, there's also something fundamental and exciting about it... and I know I'll grow incredibly in the process.

I think that's about it for my first attempt. I'm going to leave you with a picture from our camping trip a few weeks ago with some of the returned interns. It was great to get a chance to pick their brains on their experiences so we have a better idea of what lies ahead.

Big hugs,