As our trip comes to a close, I am more and more sad at the prospect of leaving. I had high hopes for this trip. I have always loved traveling, enjoyed Public Health classes at Yale, and have had South Africa on my list for a while. However, although anticipating these few weeks, I really had no idea what to expect (I promise I read the guidebook, though!). As I prepare to leave, I realize how grateful I am for these past few weeks.
First, I am so lucky to have spent this time getting to know everyone on the trip. I’ll admit, I was apprehensive when I saw that there would only be eight other students. Six weeks is a long time to spend in close quarters with so few people. But I have had so much fun with each of you, and can’t wait to extend our friendship to when we’re back on campus (Kellen, this is happening.). Although we went to bed around 10:00pm most nights, I will fondly remember each back-to-back game, night in the Chill Room, O’Rilleys, “pool time,” and trips to the city center. I admire the kindness, determination, and adventurous spirit of each one of you, which defined many of my favorite moments.
On a more academic note, one of the main reasons I applied for this program was the focus on Global Health. Again, I took a few similar classes in my first year that I really enjoyed. However, I was not sure how interested I really was. I have never had a clear answer for questions about what I want to do or study. I had hoped, probably naively, that this trip could help me answer such questions. Unfortunately, I have no better answer than I did in May. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this class. I am grateful for everything Jonathan and Paul have done for me and the others, and I learned a lot about Global Health and its complexities. I found the lessons interesting, and think it is something I could see myself pursuing further. However, I might be the most indecisive person ever. It looks like I might be scrolling through majors for a while longer.
Upon deeper reflection, I am especially grateful for the more unexpected aspects of this trip. I think that from now on, I will be more willing to step out of my comfort zone. A large example of this would be our time consuming, maddening film project. As I have written before, I found it to be both challenging and rewarding. Let me tell you, I will not be a film major. However, I most definitely would never have learned about aperture, light, and every little aspect of this surprisingly complex topic if not for this class. Another surprise came in the form of an often-chanted word: Sibebe. When Lucy suggested we climb the world’s second largest rock, I agreed, but hesitantly. Honestly, I am not a hiker. I have never understood the fascination with struggling up a mountain if you’re just going to come right back down again. However, as my second trip up the trail suggests, I really appreciated our song filled trip to one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
I will take many things with me from this trip. These countries, especially Eswatini, will hold a special piece of my heart, as will every person I met along the way. I most definitely do not want to leave, but I look forward to seeing you all on campus, overanalyzing every movie I watch, continuing to see whether Public Health is for me, and maybe finding a few more unexpected things about myself along the way.