On the Way to Work cropable



Today I looked back at my GSK PULSE volunteer assignment and was amazed that it was more than 4 weeks since I arrived in Eswatini. The days and weeks have been filled with many activities (doing many things) and I have been learning something every day.

At my NGO assignment, I have been listening to the clinical and data specialists and hearing about how the data was collected, recorded, and verified.   On visits to the community clinic locations, I have been meeting with the health care workers and seeing them in their work environment.  I have also been riding to work and to the clinic locations and recognizing people and things, which are both similar and different from what I have known previously.

Each morning and afternoon ride has taken me past a pair of beautiful bushes. The first morning, I was struck by the brilliance of the red flowers.  The morning light made this an especially wonderful sight.  Saturday morning of my first weekend, I put on my hiking boots and walked to get a picture of the plant.  I hoped that with a picture I could ask about its name.

Up close with the plant

I was busy photographing the plant and then looking at the red flowers, when I stopped. The flowers were really leaves, and I had no trouble in RECOGNIZING that plant was a poinsettia.  The poinsettia, which was small house plant decoration at Christmas in the United States, was a large bush with bright winter foliage in Eswatini.  The same plant could appear to be very different in different environments.  Those environments did not change the poinsettia.  They did add challenges to recognizing the plant or knowing what to expect from a poinsettia:  a fragile indoor plant versus a robust big bush.  A poinsettia as a flourishing garden plant in Philadelphia would require extra work (and maybe annual transplanting).  Thinking of a poinsettia house plant in Eswatini would require extra imagination.

Riding past the poinsettia and appreciating its beauty did not allow me to overcome the challenge of RECOGNIZING that the beautiful bush and the Christmas poinsettia were the same plant. RECOGNIZING the depth of the similarities and the strength of the differences required extra time, personal effort, and careful observations.  My GSK PULSE volunteer assignment may not allow me to recognize the true characteristics of all the people, places and things that I encounter.  My experience in RECOGNIZING the poinsettia shows the value that can come from giving the time, effort and attention needed for RECOGNIZING the potential and the environment of those I meet.



  1. Wow I will look at my Christmas poinsettia differently now, knowing it has far greater potential if not neglected by me (or maybe I can blame the UK winter?)

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