10 May

As I sit here, in an airplane flying away from Canada at a speed of 956 km/hour, I have before me a notebook filled with reminders of all that I have done to prepare for this departure. My EWB-UCalgary friends gave this notebook to me on the day that they announced I would be one of our two Junior Fellows this summer. Since that day, the pages have slowly filled with inky quotes, words of encouragement, diagrams, challenges, lessons learned, and dreams for the fast-approaching future. I’m flipping through the pages, hoping that some snipet of information will calm the rabid bats of fear-of-the-unknown flapping around in my stomach. Fortunately, I’ve received many fear-appeasing words of wisdom, especially in the last week of Pre-Departure Training. I wish that I could share every incredible moment of PreDep with you, but instead I’ll share just a few take-aways:

10 Things I Learned at PreDep (In chronological order)

1. Self-improvement and self-love: It is important to strive to become a better human being, but it is also important to pause, be present for a moment, and say “I am enough.” Our imperfections and fears are not always bad things.

2. “You’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.” … If you find yourself continually complaining without attempting to create a solution, consider the possibility that you might be part of the problem.

3. You should never do something for the sake of cultural integration if it will not result in a positive outcome.

4. In real life, bats with rabies shouldn’t be a problem if you stay away from caves. On the other hand, petting sketchy looking dogs is always a bad idea. “There is no vaccine for stupidity.”

5. Sunscreen goes on first, insect repellent second.

6. I do not know nearly enough about social issues and poverty in Canada.

7. “The way you show up for your placement makes the difference between staying comfortable in your landscape and discovering who you truly are. Pushing yourself into discomfort will transform the way you see your own society.”

8. “Every point of view is true…partially.”

9. You have to stand for something. Know your values, act as you speak, pick your battles.

10. The world is filled with incredible people, and connection to all of this incredible-ness is what keeps me going.

4 Responses to “Departure”

  1. Marilyn James/ Marvin Milner May 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    It will be interesting to hear of the hundreds of things that you learn this summer. We also have bats fluttering around in our stomachs- relatives of your bats, I’m sure. You will learn to adapt and develop a level of comfort as time goes by. Learning to deal with culture shock helps with so many other challenges that you will be faced with in the future. Our positive thoughts are with you at all times, and our chests puff out with pride! Love from your Mom and Dad!!!!

  2. Annie Wang May 10, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Hope ypu had a good flight!
    I’m wondering what you meant by “positive outcome” of cultural integration?
    Good tip about sunscreen and bug repellant. I got too lazy after a week and stopprd wearing sunscreen altogether.

    • juliamilner May 11, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

      Thanks Annie. I’m not totally sure what “positive outcome” was supposed to mean, I think it’s more about preventing negative outcomes. ie. If a mini-bus driver is going waaaay too fast, but nobody is saying anything, it’s OK to be the weird mzungu who asks him to slow down. The anti-malarial meds I’ve got make me super sensitive to the sun, so I don’t think I’ll give up sunscreen any time soon 😛

  3. mina May 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    great top 10 julia!!! hope you’re loving uganda!!!

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