I have been debating on whether to save a post like this towards the end of my trip; I’m not sure why, perhaps I feel like I haven’t been here long enough to comment on such things. However, I couldn’t risk forgetting about some of the things that have been shared with me today.
Although I have only been here a short time, I will be honest in the fact that I have already been homesick. A mixture of such a completely different culture, traveling alone, and being extremely close to my family, boyfriend and friends back home are some of the culprits I am sure. Struggling with these feelings alone proved to be rather difficult; with much help from my parents, and friends, things are getting much better. As I sat here writing this, after a long talk with my Mom about homesickness, my new friend, Joseph, brought me a plate of watermelon, after hearing how much I like it. It is no doubt that part of being able to deal with my homesickness is a direct result of the unconditional kindness and warmth shown to me by people like Joseph.
A message from a long lost friend (bless her soul) has also, certainly put things into perspective for me. She has just returned to Canada from being in Tanzania for a month and a half teaching and doing development work. I confided in her about my home sickness, and she had some incredibly wise, comforting, and inspiring things to share with me, and I would like to share with all of you.
She shared with me, how trips like these can change you, can shape you, and how you see the world for the rest of your life. But only if you let it. Only if you live it, completely and fully. It is incredible how powerful 8 short weeks can be, in the span of an entire life time. It is easy to forget sometimes that students are sent here, not only to do work that can help people here. They’re sent to learn, learn from the incredible African community and its incredible people. Several months spent here will teach you more than you could ever learn from sitting through any number of lectures. My dear friend predicted, and she was right; that being here will do me good, and I will grow, grow in my capacity to see, and to love.
A friend who lived in Tanzania for some time told her before she left Canada; “Always remember; I need Africa more than Africa needs me.” Africa has lived and breathed long before I came, and it will live and breathe forever after I’m gone. It is so important to remember this as us interns complete our time here. Hopefully, keeping this statement close to my heart will allow me to remove my Western lenses through which I see the world, and to experience East Africa through a completely new, bare set of lenses, with an open mind, heart and soul.