I visited Africa for the first time last September. I went (with a group of amazingly cool people) to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and relax on the beaches of Zanzibar. Words cannot express the positive impact that trip and the people I met there had on me. Yes, I was there as a tourist, but I felt connected to that place like I’ve never been in all of my world travels.
On my way to the airport to catch my flight home, I was trying to think of any possible way to stay — as I usually do when I’ve had a great vacation. I had an unusually strong feeling, however, that I would be returning soon. Fast forward nine months, through a months-long PULSE application process, training, vaccinations, etc., and I’m back in Africa to work with The Earth Institute on the Millennium Villages Project in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
I’m not one who feels that my future is pre-destined. I am here because I knew that I wanted this assignment and did the work to make it happen. But . . . if I look at the fact that my PULSE assignment could have been in many other places on other continents, all of the things that had to fall into place, and all of the people with connections to Ghana that suddenly came into my life — including a Pediatric Hospitalist from the University of Utah going to the same region of Ghana to work with Community Health Workers who happened to be sitting next to me on my flight from SLC to JFK — I just have to believe that I am meant to be here.
Words cannot express how thankful I am to have this experience. It is going to push my boundaries intellectually, emotionally, physically, and in many other ways I probably haven’t even considered. This well-travelled, adventure-seeking bad-a%* from Montana is extremely anxious about what is to come.
Stay tuned for the inevitable injury reports and photos, embarrassing stories, and tales of those I’ll be working with that will surely warm your heart.