This is most likely going to be the post that closes out my blog! I am writing this post from somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean as I fly from Amsterdam to Chicago on my way home. I am still not sure what to think of this semester, and I really can’t believe it’s over. This post I hope will summarize the changes that I feel I have experienced, and can capture some of the more “meta” experiences of this trip.
Before I lose any readers at this point, I want to take a minute to thank everyone who has been reading my blog! I know we are all busy, and taking the time to follow my experiences during these past four months means so much to me! The outpour of support from situations I experienced was incredible, and this blog really reinforced how far my ‘family’ stretches.
Now on to the sappy closing post….
As I seriously reflect on these past four months I realize that this semester was a complicated semester. Academically, it was one of the most enjoyable making my classes seem ‘easy’ but ‘easy’ is not a term I would ever use to describe my time in Nairobi. From fighting traffic, to getting fed up with institutional problems preventing resources, to simply being targeted by individuals it was a mentally and emotionally taxing semester.
Through this, many aspects of me became stronger…
- First, my belief that I joined the right University and program (Public Health Scholars Program). None of this semester would have happened if I was at another University, and frankly was a lot less likely to happen if I was not part of a program that setup and forced the study abroad experience. AU was never a school at the top of my list, but the longer I am involved the more I think back and laugh that if only I had known my senior year of high school would have been a lot less stressful.
- Second, my belief that I have chosen the right field of study and career field. Every course I took this semester (with the exception of Kiswahili) was directly related to public health and the career I want to have. These courses in addition to my work in the field (both the Community Health Diagnosis and with my attachment with MACODEP in Kibera) just strengthened my love of public health and medicine and have really re-fueled my passion for the field.
- Third, my abilities to adapt to new environments and work in the ‘field’ have become stronger. A key theme of any study abroad experience is adaptation to the culture and the country you are living in, and that was no exception this semester. I have become better at adapting to new situations and environments, and have gotten much stronger at working in the field all-day and interacting with strangers to promote public health campaigns.
- Lastly, my faith has been greatly strengthened during this semester. While this semester was the longest I have gone without attending a church service, going through these experiences and interacting with people of faith on a daily basis (some of whom were in destitute situations) provided me with a level of hope that reinforced my own faith.
This semester was a semester of strengthening and a semester of growth. I am blessed to be able to have had these opportunities, and now it is my job to carry these experiences with me and use these experiences down the road. Whether it be in class, in talking with students who may be interested in studying abroad, using the skills during an internship, or just reminding myself of the little memories these experiences will always hold a special place in my heart.
I want to close this blog, with a Maasai saying I used on Thanksgiving, but that is just too fitting to not use again:
“When you walk alone, you may walk very fast but you don't get very far. when you walk with others, you may not walk very fast but you can go very far.”