Packing has been difficult. Hours spent in aisles — the stores escape me now, they all blend together. Wal-Mart, Bass Pro, Kohl’s, ShopRite, Amazon; I feel like I’ve done enough shopping for the rest of my life. Two voices in my head have been constantly battling each other while I’ve slowly added things and ticked them off my Big Guinea List.
- Oh my god, the food. All the volunteers in Guinea say the rice and sauce gets OLD. We need the food. Pringles, cheese, tuna, taco seasoning, CANDIES, let’s get it all, we cannot survive off of rice and SAUCE C’MON. Definitely need that. Let’s get it all. FEAST!!! YES!!! FOOD!!! BRING IT ALL!!!
- (and lately, this has been overpowering the other) Isn’t it kind of ridiculous how much money you’re spending to live in poverty? Don’t people in Guinea live, day in and day out, off the supplies in their own country? And here I go, traipsing in with my Official American Shit because their shit just isn’t good enough for me. A part of me almost feels like dumping out all my bags and just going in BLIND with nothing!
Reality, however, is somewhere in between the two. The foods that make me feel guilty now will make me smile and think of home months down the line. The solar charger and technology I brought will help me ease into a drastically different life. And… two years is a long time and two 50 pound bags isn’t that ridiculous.
I am privileged. I am lucky. I am in for a big culture shock.
I recently met a PhD student from East Africa and he told me to prepare myself. That I was going to see a lot of things that disappointed me, made me sad, made me feel guilty for not being able to do more, to fix everything, to help them all. But, he said, that it was most important for me to not focus on that and instead focus on how, despite every hardship these people face, they are still dancing, smiling, and laughing.
Right now I am over-packed, over-whelmed, and under a lot of stress. I’m taking one big deep breath in, one big deep breath out and letting go. Letting go of America, of my guilt, of my worries, and of my fears. I’m going into Guinea open; to new friends, new experiences, new challenges, and new lessons. Thank you to all who have supported me this far and who will continue to support me along the way.
Now let’s go dance.