March 23, 2012

Today is the Day

Luck would have it that yesterday around noon I get a text from Margaret, who is currently studying in India, that she threw up for the first time in 10 years. Today she told me that she is having problems with both ends of things.

I get home and see that Mali has had a military coup. I have a friend studying there and word is that she is fine, but of all countries, I did not see Mali as the next one to overthrow their government.

Senegal has elections on Sunday and who knows how those will turn out.

These are the things that make my stomach tight. They make me question my sanity. They make me cross my fingers, wish on a star, say a prayer, that where I am going will be peaceful. That where I am going will be safe and calm.

But my own fears are calmed when I think about the people who don't have a say about whether they live in these countries. People who don't have the means to leave if things get rough. People who are just grateful to be alive today, eat today, work today, and go to school today. Moreover, I feel so proud knowing that I am going to Gambia knowing that I will be giving kids tools that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.

Yesterday in all of my classes we had parties. I showed all of my kids a map of Africa and then pointed out Gambia to them. I told them about where I would be staying and what I would be doing. They were so amazed (all be it mostly by the fact that where I will be staying has no air-conditioning and less by some of the Gambia history I told them). While I was walking out to my car my heart felt so heavy, I didn't know leaving was going to be this hard. I love those kids and I wish them the absolute best. That feeling in that moment made everything worthwhile: the early mornings; the late night planning; the frantic grading.

I don't know what to expect of my students or my school in Gambia. But I do know this. I cannot wait to meet my students and I cannot wait to sit down with them and learn about their lives. I am going to try my best to be the best teacher I can for these kids. I hope I can give them skills they can use throughout their lives and I hope that they will open up and let me into their school community.

But for now I am going to go hug my father goodbye and spend the morning with my Mom around town. The next time I post I will be in GAMBIA!

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