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Posts Tagged ‘packing’

(How’s the packing going? What are the most important things (material or non-material) that you feel you need in order before you go?)

It’s all a little overwhelming at this point. I feel like I am being pulled in about twenty different directions at the same time. Picture ten people pulling on a piece of saltwater taffy until it stretches so thin in the middle it softly and quietly falls apart. All at the same time I am trying to: say goodbye to my friends of many different groups, take in and appreciate familiar experiences while I can, eat as many of mom’s dinners as possible before I leave, organize the details of visa and travel and arrival arrangements, decide which belongings are important enough to come along without going over the 50 pound limit, and mentally prepare myself for what might be ahead. Actually, the suitcase serves as a pretty good analogy for all of this. I can try and stuff in as much as possible, but at some point either the zippers will give and explode open, or some item won’t make the cut. At the end, it looks like any other piece of baggage, that with a simple glance one could not suspect the strain, the heartache, the joy and hope that went into it. I guess I like that about packing, it’s an exercise in hope. Hope I packed the right ratio of warm to cool clothes. Hope I can do without those boots because they won’t fit if I want to take the film camera. Hope those few books and photos will serve well enough as comfort. Hope airport security doesn’t steal my peanut butter as contraband. Hope the other volunteers and staff don’t see my luggage and think I am high maintenance! On every trip I’ve ever been on, I have brought something that never got used, something I wish I had more or better of, and have realized that most things can be purchased or replaced when I am there because, yes, they have stores in other countries that sell toothpaste and socks.

Mostly, I am daydreaming about what I think this will all be like. I picture the adventures I will go on with fellow volunteers, trying not to get lost as we explore. I see kids giggling and asking eager questions as I teach them in a small but colorful classroom. I passionately and intelligently advocate for the children of my class to go on a field trip. I imagine being sad about missing Christmas at home, but finding happiness in re-creating some holiday traditions abroad. Maybe it’s all a little silly, that instead I should be doing more research about Costa Rica, and reading what people have written about similar experiences and making specific plans or goals. But I figure, I have a whole year to get it all sorted out. I feel the most important thing is to leave home without regrets or lingering doubts; to be ready to get off that plane and commit all my thoughts and energy to being and working there, and not pulled back by homesickness or wondering what I left behind. I want to jump in, day one, and swim around my new life and taste what it feels like to call it home. What philanthropist or advocate for change can do a complete job if they don’t have total focus and drive for the task at hand? How could I positively impact the minds and lives of these disadvantaged kids if I had anything holding me back? So far, my education has been very theoretical and abstract and book-based. I am looking forward to finally putting my beliefs and ideas into action; to using my hands and feet more than a computer and a brain full of thoughts. Mentally, emotionally, I’m ready. Even if you couldn’t tell that by looking at the mess around my unpacked suitcase.

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