This weekend we climbed Mt. Mulanje. It was wonderful.
15 or so hours of hiking across a day and a half to reach the highest peak in Malawi and Central Africa- Sapitwa
This weekend we climbed Mt. Mulanje. It was wonderful.
We are now just about done with week 1 and it has been a great week. Thankfully we weren’t hit too hard by jet lag but were able to transition quickly and well.
Already we have run our first treatment sessions and have our ‘plans’ for the next couple of weeks. We will get to visit a number of sites to better understand what OT looks like here in Malawi and what the resources are like in the community for people with disabilities. I am amazed by how great of a site it is for fieldwork–I have gotten a mix of standard private practice, pull-outs in an international school, consulting and treating in a Malawian pre-school, and going to an outreach project in the community.
I am learning so much and am similarly enjoying life in Malawi…we have already done so much visiting Dedza pottery, getting involved in a church, work out classes, game nights, and hiking on the public holiday (we saw so many baboons!). I feel that we are learning the rhythms of life here and I am working on learning more Chichewa to better interact with the Malawians I interact with.
Undoubtably my favorite part thus far has been the Ndironde project. This project focuses on providing services to people affected by HIV/AIDS and Malaria and has recently been offering (via Sandi) therapy services one afternoon a week for children with disabilities. Currently they provide some physio and speech services, but with a new rehab tech starting next week, they are hoping to implement some OT. Coming up with what that will look like is our job! Unfortunately, due to the election next week, we will only get to go twice more.
We arrived in Lilongwe yesterday and got to visit Sandi-Lilongwe in the afternoon. We had our first ensima and they even made a sign to welcome us!
The country is beautiful, the people so hospitable, and the therapists incredible. Today we travelled to Blantyre and got settled in where we will be staying for the next month. I am so excited to see more of this country and get to know this culture.
My “graduation” ceremony is over now and my “vacation” time is almost done.
This time tomorrow I will be on a plane in route to Malawi—8 weeks of my Level II Fieldwork Rotation working in a pediatrics private practice.
My bags are (mostly) packed. Travel arrangements are made. Farewells have mostly been said to friends who will have moved by the time I return. I have my general schedule. Its almost time to go.
I have been asked frequently what I am most excited about and so goes my answer:
learning, expanding and growing.
I am excited to learn and get to practice pediatric OT, to expand my worldview and see the world and clients through a different cultural lens, and to grow as a practitioner and a person. I see the next 8 weeks with little certainty of what it will be like yet great expectancy for what will come of it. I am hopeful that through practice and time overseas I will gain clarity in the next steps I should take as I actually finish graduate school this summer. And then on top of that, I am thrilled for the opportunity to experience a new culture—people, way of life, language, food, and attractions!
I am still full from such a rich weekend. Somehow 48 hours at the beach with friends seemed more like a few weeks. The depth of friendship and heights of fun are a rare yet valuable combination. These people are my people and I cherish each friendship immensely.
This weekend couldn’t have come at the a better time. In the next three weeks the three of us roommates will turn into six or so roommates paired with various parents and visitors. And then just as quickly as our apartment seems to fill, a wedding and a few graduations and a trip overseas will empty it back down to two or three.
Before leaving last Friday I was encouraged that it would be a weekend for the books. Indeed it was.
If I knew my countdown until graduation or Malawi I would tell you, but to be honest, I just want to enjoy today.
This year is one of adventure and I am cherishing the fullness of it.
In the last four weeks…
I have been gone more than I have been home.
Spent time in small town(s) North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Maryland
Completed my first marathon
Returned to Disney World for the first time in 18 years
Begun learning basic Chichewa in prep for my time in Malawi
Attended my first AOTA conference
Caught a glimpse of the end of my time in graduate school
As everything seems to fly by, I am learning the discipline of being present–cherishing yesterday, enjoying today, and looking forward to tomorrow. Each day I am finding grace to embrace the present without clinging to the past or worrying over the future. Last week the conference was great, but now I’m back in class and even this I want to enjoy–my present schooling will soon come to a close. I still don’t know where I will find a job or live come August, but I am trusting that the one who has led me thus far will continue to establish the steps before me.
In a few short months I will finish graduate school. The mix of emotions attached to that statement could fill a book, but that’s for another time.
Before starting I made this odd list of completely unrealistic goals.
If you knew me before I moved out to NC you know how unrealistic and uncharacteristic of me (or who I was) each of these is. You know how lofty they feel to you reading them? That’s how they were to me as well. And halfway through they still were.
Let me be honest: I’m not sure why I made them or wrote them down. I didn’t actually intend to achieve any.
But here I am now just shy of meeting them. One thing led to another and for some reason, friends agreed to join me in the triathlon and bike ride and marathon training.
Tomorrow I’ll check “run a marathon” off my list. I’m sure it will be rewarding and incredible to cross the finish line.
BUT, I am convinced that the richness has been in the process…
the friendships that have developed as we ran mile after mile together; the value of having friends join me for the long runs even when they aren’t running the marathon; the sweet revelations about life—friendship, community, covering, perseverance; the memories and meals we shared, the delight I finally came to find in running (after weeks of running); learning the value of rest; experiencing breakthrough right after it seemed impossible
Halfway through the training plan we never really followed, I was confident this would be a first and last (And I was reconsidering the first part). The outcome didn’t seem to merit the means in my mind.
I must tell you–going for what seems impossible, the process is rich regardless of whether we achieve the outcome. Its the most incredible experience to step over the line in your mind where what was impossible becomes an approaching reality.
It doesn’t matter so much now whether I cross the finish line tomorrow… already it has been worth it.