hum

what I teach, the number of hours I work, the places I go, the people I surround myself with

overwhelm and become a hum, background to the tick tock and flip flip of time passing by

I have given into the experience, agreed to go along and take things as they come

my birthday this year seeming more significant, a declaration of my commitment to life and my career

a little turmoil in my heart about priorities versus dreams and

balance

carefully shaping my reputation as a young adult, a new teacher, a loving individual

not to give up nor be intimidated by the reality of life after graduation

(crisis in Education, paying the bills, saving for my future, planning post-grad academic goals, investigating career moves, investing in friendships)

there is so much to learn!

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians

deep connections

Too often do I forget that a romantic relationship should be, in many ways, similar to a deep friendship. I get too caught up with expectations of “dating”, and forget to appreciate the calm stillness that I value so much in my close friendships. For most of the year, I don’t see my closest friends for weeks at a time, yet we are great friends because we share the same values and perspectives. When we do spend time together, we have deep conversations and enjoy each other’s company. We trust each other with our insecurities, and can be truly honest with each other. There are no expectations about what “they should do” and what I should do– we just are two people in a growing, meaningful friendship. It is too easy for me to read too much into “signs” or words exchanged in a relationship. I think this is true for many ladies I know. We get caught up in the excitement of the dating game, and look to magazines and other girlfriends for reference, as if there are actions/words that define what every relationship is.

Last summer I followed my heart and went to Africa to learn about library and school systems there. I was fully myself: doing what I thought was right, being who I am. When I came back home, I realized that I started settling back into the expectations that my friends and family have for me. This month I have been reflecting on the journals I kept while I was away, trying to redeem the confidence and freedom I had in myself when I was being me, alone. Over these weeks, I have been reflexively learning how to be independent again, but just as healthily dependent on my friends, my parents, and my partner.

Summer time is a really important time to reflect and plan for the new school/work year. I have been teaching at the Academy daily, so I am getting a taste of what it’s like to work a 9-4 schedule. The collection of writing from this summer’s experiences will be very interesting to look back on next summer, just as I am looking back on last summer’s writing. I am looking forward to being trained as a teacher candidate– I am nervous, but I finally feel ready.

Sometimes I catch a reflection of myself in a passing window on the street, and I see that I am an adult now.

a beautiful day

Since I got back from Uganda, my team and I have been working together to fundraise money to send back to Busolwe, Uganda, to continue the kindergarten project that we started there. Today, the school is a registered primary school, and offers five different grades including our original Kindergarten. It is called Mango Grove School. The advantage that our school offers for our students is that it is attached to the community library, which means that teachers have more resources to teach the students, encouraging them to be creative and love reading. We have raised over $3,000 with Cedar Grove Elementary School since last year, and today we did our second presentation at Irwin Park Elementary School.

Our presentation is 30 minutes long and includes pictures and video clips of a few of the things we did in Busolwe for the Kindergarten project. Our presentation script tells the stories of the children who live in Busolwe. We want to share the story of the students in Busolwe with students here, to give them a peek into the lives of children halfway around the world. The purpose of sharing their stories is not just to fundraise money to support the school in Busolwe. We also hope to inspire some students to be thankful for what they have and perhaps one day also go abroad to interact with other cultures.

All the students were so attentive during our presentation– they really enjoyed hearing about daily life and school of the people we knew in Busolwe. We showed them the pictures of the classroom before we painted and renovated it, right before the picture of our completed classroom, and their response was so heartwarming… they started to applaud. We then showed an even more recent picture of the classes set up there now, and it made me so happy to hear them “oooh” and “ahhh” at the progress that Mango Grove School has made. All in all, I think that knowing that they have a story of Africa that is different from the story of poverty and disease that many charities depict is fulfilling enough for me.

Today was a beautiful day. The weather was the perfect backdrop to the many acts of kindness and wonderful interactions I shared with friends and strangers all day long. Vancouver can be such a wonderful place to live in. On my way home, a girl about my age was crying at the bus stop and was afraid to approach my bus driver for directions. She was clearly lost, physically and emotionally. My driver encouraged her to calm down, then promised that he would help her get to where she needed to go, right after giving her a free ticket transfer. I think if it weren’t for this kind driver, she would have been wandering around lost, all night. She was just waiting for someone to reach out their hand to her. Apparently it was her first time taking the bus, ever, so clearly she needed to get away from somewhere quick. I hope that her night turns out okay. At least she knows that a stranger cares enough to listen to her and promise to get her help if she needed it.

It’s been a long week. I haven’t seen my close friends in so long. There are so many overdue coffees and lunches, it’ll be such a relief when I finish my exams. At least then I won’t need to worry about them on top of teaching and trying to accumulate enough work hours.

Live freely

I have never been so comfortable nor confident in a relationship, it’s wonderful that I am now. I don’t remember ever being so ready to be there for someone, knowing that he will always support me no matter what/when. We are so amazing, complementing each other perfectly. Recognizing that we share that bond kind of assures me that we can get through any other differences we might have (inevitable, though nothing so far..). He really is a wonderful guy, I am really happy.

It’s also kind of really exciting to be taking graduation photos tomorrow because I’m ready for it. I’ve worked hard to get to this point in my academic career and it’s finally time to officially document it. Other things I’m looking forward to during my winter break: applying for my B.Ed., fixing up my tutoring schedule, revising my resume. Instead of relaxing and completely letting go, I always tell myself that it’s better to keep pushing forward. I think it builds more character learning to get used to that steep climb than to be easy on myself too early and take too many breaks. That’s for when I have a family. Now, I will keep pushing and pushing myself to get further and become a better person so that I can be the best that I can be for my family, for my partner.

I miss KL, MW, KZ, ER. They and I are always so busy (I guess we are driven in the same ways), so we never have time to catch up with each other. I treasure every moment and conversation I have with these people. I trust them and am completely comfortable with them. This holiday season will be too short to spend enough time with them…. I am looking forward to Reading Break already.

I am in love with Life.

orientation

Before I left for Africa, I had to attend a series of orientations held by UBC Go Global. They were designed to ease us into our placements, and I had prepared myself for weeks prior to my arrival in Uganda for the culture shock that was inevitable. Now that I am home, I feel like I didn’t prepare myself enough to transition back into the mentality of daily life. I am very excited to be home, and it’s been amazing to catch up with my friends and pick up my life the way I left it three months ago. However, I am still stuck on how to bridge my overseas experience with my identity here at home.

 

(to be) inspired

I have not written anything meaningful in a few weeks. I cannot seem to put any of my thoughts down on paper. I want to share my experiences, to draw insight and reflect on them. But, I am stuck. I feel a disconnect with myself. I don’t feel like I am the same person I was in Africa, nor am I the person I was in Europe. It’s strange to think that I was there, away from home. It’s unsettling to know that I am back, I don’t know why. I wonder how much I’ve changed, if at all. It’s a little more than confusing to sort all this out. So maybe that’s why I haven’t yet bothered to really reflect on my experiences. I am more interested in shallow things like cleaning up my room, catching up on TV shows, listening to songs I missed out over the summer… though while I do these things, I am uncomfortable deep down inside because I know there’s some deep thinking I need to do to create some sort of closure for myself from this big trip away.

I have not heard the right song, or had the right conversation, yet. I don’t even know.

poolside

The girls and I are at Mt. Elgon today, we’re in Mbale for four days this weekend because of a conference that we have to attend. It’s been awhile since we got to pamper ourselves…

Just had a full body massage. Went into the steam room after, now my pores feel so refreshed. Laid by a little garden for a little while to cool down, then came out to tan by the poolside loudspeaker. Ordered myself a Long Island Tea, enjoying the warm touch of the afternoon sun.

I miss Vancouver: Robson street, English Bay, UBC campus… but I am enjoying myself immensely here. I love that I am so far away, on a continent so far away from home. I am homesick but also enjoying the freedom of being away from home. The hotel is in the middle of a big plot of farm land, bordered on one side by Mount Elgon. There is a nice breeze blowing from the mountain that soothes my tanning.

The pool smells wonderfully familiar.

It’s a little annoying to hear the tourists by the pool, so blissfully ignorant to Uganda’s realities… Tourists only see what they want to see. It’s heartbreaking to know that they only know that Uganda is 1) full of beautiful scenery but 2) underlined by poverty. What they haven’t experienced are the beautiful relationships we’ve developed with the people here. They haven’t gotten to know the generosity and resilience of the people here. The poverty that they see is only in terms of the global monetary system. Ugandans are rich in spirit. The stories that people tell of their own experience has a completely different twist from the stories told by charities and Western media..

Right now, I don’t want to go home. I am in love with being a traveller. I love the fact that I am so far away from who I am supposed to be back home. I appreciate all the conversations I have with people I’ve met on this trip. I am not ready to stop learning from this travel experience.