Volunteering in Kenya (as a teacher with Canadian Crossroads International) opened up my world; it introduced me to experiences I would otherwise never have had.
My days outside of teaching were totally encompassed with learning how to cook without electricity, and learning how to bathe, brush teeth, wash clothes and dishes with only a small jug of water a day. As I wrote weepy letters to my family back home by kerosene lantern, what was important to me became more Maslowian - is that a word? – obtaining food, having adequate shelter, good health, and caring relationships.
More impactful, perhaps, was seeing myself in the mirror and knowing that I had done this journey - I had travelled across the world from my home, my family, my familiar surroundings at 22 years old. I had stared down fear and loneliness and darkness those of which I had never known, and yet here I was, eventually deftly navigating the crowds and their reaching hands in Nairobi; boarding a matutu and hurtling down the highway at breakneck speeds; tasting roasted goat meat dipped in salty piles with strangers-become-friends. What else might be possible!
My new insights and courage solidified my interest in a career in social work, which was to embrace a philosophy that believes in social justice and righting inequalities. I am a braver, stronger, wiser person than I would have ever thought possible. I know what fear tastes like, smells like, and feels like, but I also know how to feel that fear and do it anyway.
Vancouver BC, Canada, 28 August 2018