One of the first things we did during orientation was write a letter to ourselves. I pretty much forgot about mine and when the envelope ended up back in my possession four months later I couldn’t remember what I’d written for the life of me. This was my letter to myself.
“OK Self-here’s the deal,
You did it. You had a lot of fears going into this, but if you’re reading this, you made it. So no matter how the program goes, feel good about that. You were worried about what you could handle, worried that you would let people down if it wasn’t the super awesome adventure you thought it would be, you were worried about what it would say about you if you couldn’t get past yourself and you made this a purely selfish experience. I hope you had a good time, learned a lot, made wonderful friends, and maybe even found a new part of yourself. If not, that’s OK. A really smart lady once told you that just because you couldn’t do something didn’t make it a failure. So be proud of what you did do, and if you’re disappointed by how anything turned out, just keep trying. As your roommate would say, ‘think positive!’”
It’s hard to remember that I had so many fears at the start of the program, fears that I didn’t voice, for the most part. I’ve been back for a week and already the lack of warm showers and the often dubious bathrooms have faded away and the good memories push to the forefront of my brain. My experience in Uganda and Rwanda was so overwhelmingly positive that all the uncertainty of the first few days seems to have melted out of existence. Even though I’m back home, I still have so many things left to say, so many stories I didn’t share. Even though this is technically the end of my year abroad, I’ll probably do a few more updates once I’ve gained a little distance from the experience. But for now, I’ll end this post with one more little story. Two weeks before I left I got back in touch with my Ugandan host family. I’d been out of touch since I left them, for various reasons, but I wanted to make sure I got a chance to talk to them before I went home. I learned that my host mother, who had been seven months pregnant at the time I was living with them, had given birth to a baby girl. They named her Liliana.