Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ublonda in the Uncertain

I have been home from Uganda for a few weeks now and the dreaded question hasn’t become any easier, “How was Africa?” As I mundanely repeat, “Oh um, Africa was amazing. Best experience of my life thus far, so glad I went.” In my mind, I’m asking myself, how can I answer that? How can I sum up in one sentence how my experience in Africa was? To be honest, I still am not able to answer this question yet. As I continue to process in my mind all that I witnessed, experienced, and did there, I come down with an overwhelming sadness of the thought of Uganda and how much I do miss it. From bombings to posho, I am grateful for every good and bad experience I had there and will never forget the dear friends I have made.

Often people ask me what all I did in Uganda for my Public Health internship. I repeatedly mumble off the programs I worked on and implemented. As an internship perspective, I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario to put into practice what my professors have lectured to me about for the past four years. But now, post-Africa, I want to not only explain to individuals what I was able to do for the Ugandan people, but rather what the Ugandan people did and will continually do for me throughout the rest of my life. I have taken off the ‘rosy colored glasses’ and witnessed first hand what 80% of the world endures each and everyday as apart of a developing nation.

The cliché lesson most people learn on similar excursions is the appreciation of being able to call yourself an American and the rights, freedoms, and opportunities that come along with such a title. I have never been more proud of such a title; the meaning behind this label will forever run deep in my blood. “I am proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” With this being said first, I also learned a lesson that I believe every American must be exposed to. With all the rights, freedoms, and opportunities that we are so blessed to be able to obtain I feel that ignorance, selfishness, and a sense of gluttony comes along. Without voicing all my opinions, I want to singularly stress the importance of opening your eyes. Look beyond the comforts around you. Every person must undergo a paradigm shift of their own world and what they’ve built up in that world.

As my mom’s usual counsel of wisdom she typically repeats to me with assurance, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I have recently been pondering the meaning behind these words, for they have never felt more relevant. I am now a college graduate and have spent the last four most incredible months of my life indulged in a foreign land and culture ripped away from all familiar comforts. I have accomplished the goals I set for myself so long ago that it is now time to re-evaluate and make decisions towards new goals. “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.” I have today, to make the changes for tomorrow. I don’t know what is quite next, but I am relying on faith. I am exploring graduate schools to get my Masters of Public Health emphasizing in International Development and Global Health. I am searching for a job in Utah with a non-profit organization. I am processing in my mind my experiences in Uganda and applying them to my life in a positive way. I am happy, healthy, and taking one day at a time enjoying the excitement and insecurities of the unknown. I was Ublonda in Uganda, but am now Ublonda in the Uncertain and am all right with that.