September 26, 2010

Here I go!

Hi Friends- Thanks for taking time to visit my little piece of the internet :)

I’ve decided to write this blog as a little side project as I take on my first big, post-Colorado College adventure to Africa! My intention in writing this blog is to fill you – my fabulous friends and family - in on my travel triumphs and blunders, as well as of any other adventures that seem relatively entertaining as I venture halfway across the world.

Let me begin by giving you a short explanation why I am going to Africa. As most college seniors do (or I would assume, at least contemplate doing) when graduation looms, I gave in to some *panicked* impulsivity when I decided to go on this trip. ("What?! No more structure? Years until I actually go to nursing school? Free time? What the hell am I going to do with my life?!") Going to Africa was always something in the back of my mind, yet never actually given serious deliberation. But a few weeks before graduation (most likely in a procrastinating state), I sat down and Googled: Volunteer Africa.

I looked through a couple of organizations' websites and found one that seemed well put together ( I emailed Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) asking for references from previous volunteers (which I ended up never actually checking... sorry Mom). Then, about a week later, I put a deposit down for five weeks of volunteering in Cape Town, South Africa. I think that I decided on Cape Town because it seemed like one of the farthest places I could get from Colorado. But in reality, I didn’t really put that much thought into it, or really ask for anyone's input. For once in my life, I just decided to do something without thinking through every. single. ridiculous. detail. My heart and my mind both yelled “JUST DO IT ALREADYDO IT NOW!” So, I did. Being the crazy meticulous planner that I am, it was quite out of the ordinary to do something so impulsive (or at least "impulsive" to me). Yet it just felt simply and totally right.

I’m afraid I’ve left many people in the dark regarding what I am actually going to do as a volunteer. I do apologize, but I can tell you now though because I just found out myself! I will be volunteering in one of four children's care centers/schools run by the Cape Mental Health Society ( I will be working with children who have both physical and intellectual disabilities. For those of you interested, the basic outline of my volunteer responsibilities (given to me by CCS) is below:
  • Assist the teachers with the daily program at the center  
  • Interact with the children in a group setting and one-on-one  
  • Engage the children in movement exercises  
  • Assist with massage and occupational therapy  
  • Assist the teachers and caregivers with administrative tasks  
  • Assist with transport and feeding of children  
  • Assist in implementing stimulating activities   
I am THRILLED with my volunteer placement. Beyond thrilled, actually. For those of you who don’t know, I have spent the last two summers in New York working at the Southampton Fresh Air Home, a camp for kids and teens who have physical disabilities ( Working at SFAH, getting to know the staff and kids,  has changed my life. Nowhere else have I experienced moments of sheer joy and pure happiness like I have at SFAH. I know it may sound cheesy, and that’s ok. I just hope that at one point in all of your lives that each of you finds something that makes you feel just as euphoric. And now, to be able to take the lessons learned from my experiences in New York and use them in Africa- how cool is that?

I officially leave the United States in 11 days.  In my next post, I’ll tell you how packing for two months away from home in one CARRY ON suitcase turns out.  Stay tuned… :)
Namaste, xoxo

Laura, LG, Lego