Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Less than 2 months away...what are we thinking?

As our winter break draws to a close and our trip to Haiti is fast approaching, our excitement is definitely increasing.  We each took the time to put our current thoughts, fears, and hopes for our trip into writing.  Please enjoy!
As we are less than 2 months away from our trip to Haiti, I have begun to think about it more and more. Being on break I’ve had time to start packing, fill out travel forms, learn more about the Haitian culture and tutor myself in the Creole language. I am extremely excited and a little nervous at the same time. I have heard some stories about previous trips to Haiti and students’ different experiences. I absolutely love having discussions on what we anticipate or think our trip is going to be like. The best part about those discussions is that we are usually incorrect about what our experiences actually turn out to be. To me, that is one of the most rewarding aspects about participating in service trips. Right now I have some idea of what to expect during our trip but I’m remaining open-minded so I can embrace the culture and get the most benefit from our journey.  

When investigating the Gannon ABST trip, I was searching for a trip that incorporated service, faith, and medical assistance to people in need as well as exposure to a diverse culture. The Haiti ABST trip seemed to perfectly fit this description. Although I am very excited and appreciative of this opportunity, I am also nervous for certain aspects of the trip. Traveling abroad anywhere poses health risks and Haiti is no exception. I am worried about getting sick from food or conditions to which I am not accustomed. However, trying new foods and experiencing and learning about another way of life is something I am most excited about. I am eager to meet new people and learn to appreciate the diversity which exists in our world. I am expecting this trip be very difficult but also very eye opening. I think it will be fun to not only learn about Haitian culture but also about my fellow ABSTers. I am expecting to have difficulties trying new foods and resisting communications with family and friends but I know overcoming these road blocks will shape me into a better person. I am hoping that we are able to spend time in a medical clinic and that I will gain experience working with others. As a result of this trip, I want to feel more independent and aware of those around me. I would like this trip to create new ideas and hopes of providing service to others in the future.

I am excited to go to Haiti to expand on my cultural knowledge, to see healthcare in action in another country, and to explore the importance of vaccinations. I am preparing myself to go in with an open mind so that I can maximize my experiences in every possible way. My hope is that each one of us is able to learn more about the Haitian culture, as well as, grow individually through our experiences as we are touching lives of those less fortunate. The biggest challenge I will be facing is the fact that the Haitian people do not follow a strict daily agenda as we do. Personally, I would like to learn more about healthcare beliefs and issues and how the country is moving toward improvement. During our stay, my personal goal is to remain calm when we are not “on schedule”, and to indulge into the culture as much as I can. We will all come back as changed young adults with more tender hearts.

I am excited to go to Haiti this spring because I am always excited about new experiences. I have gone on three total domestic mission trips and have always dreamed of going on an international trip. I believe Haiti will be a very unique experience because my dream has been to join my cousin who is a missionary in Uganda and I believe this will be an important experience in doing that. I have researched the Haiti earthquake and I look forward to learning more about Haiti's culture and its history as we prepare to go in March. Some of my fears regarding this trip are the risk of sickness and the cholera outbreak that is still present in Haiti. The thought of being unable to volunteer and help because one is feeling weak and sick is difficult to come to terms with. So this is one of the biggest fears that I have. The other reservation I have about this trip is that it will not purely be physical labor. In previous trips, I have always had some labor component through building houses. This will be a different kind of service and although I have reservations about it, I am also very excited about it. I am expecting that this will be a once in a lifetime trip and I will be forever changed by it. I think an important part of mission and serving is that you begin to understand how other people in the world live. People that have things much worse off than you. I hope to grow by continuing to understand and increase my world view and be changed by the stories and images I see on this trip.

At first I wasn’t sure if my expectations about Haiti laid in a muddle of opinions, fears, and warnings I’ve gotten from the media and folks I’ve told about this trip.  Of the crime and chaos there, of the large skepticism about volunteer trips like these.  However, I’ve grown to now expect that all of these notions will largely be mistaken.  I am excited to be able to look past the sadness and destruction on the surface to see a truly beautiful country.  I have heard that Haitians paint their houses in bright colors to reflect their inner happiness and joy, and I have had the pleasure of speaking with a Haitian woman who spoke of the 2010 earthquake not with sadness, but instead optimism about a road of progress.  I am excited to meet people, listen to their stories, and be there to lend a helping hand.  I am also eager to learn Creole and perhaps put my French to use, see new plant and animal species, and experience a new culture while going out of my comfort zone to try new things.

I'm very excited to be visiting Haiti this spring because I would like to experience different culture and I'm also looking forward to helping those who are less fortunate than us. Being blessed with many things in my life makes me realize that it's very important to give back. The only fear I have is not being able to verbally communicate with the people there because I don't speak their language. I'm hoping that this won't be a huge issue and body language will suffice. I am expecting to receive an enriching experience and to be able to make an impact in someone's life.

Now that we are less than two months away from our trip to Haiti, I am more excited than ever.  Ever since my older sister shared stories about her experiences on a similar trip in El Salvador her freshman year in college, I have had a burning desire to go on a service trip abroad.  Now, nearly six years later, I am taking the opportunity to do just that!  I am extremely excited to learn about the beautifully vibrant Haitian culture, to explore the healthcare system in another country, to provide small acts of service to people in need, but most importantly, to develop relationships with those we encounter and to make every effort to stand in solidarity with them, if only for a short time.  My biggest fear for this trip is definitely the language barrier that we will encounter.  When I applied to lead an ABST I originally selected trips to Central America because, as a Spanish minor, I like to think I would be able to hold my own in a conversation there.  Being assigned to the Haiti trip came as a shock, but I know it will end up being a beautiful surprise.  I cannot wait to see how this trip changes and challenges me.    

I am beyond excited to visit Haiti over this spring break! I am excited to have the opportunity to travel, learn about a different culture, be of service in any way that I can, but overall grow from an experience as unique as this. As a future nurse, I am especially excited to learn about the medical needs of Haiti and the infrastructure of health care in a different country. I do not have any fears about the trip, however there is always the worry of the unexpected. However, I hope that anything that I experience that I do not expect will open my eyes.  I hope to grow in spirituality and my own view of the world. I hope to learn as much as I can about the culture and needs of Haiti! Here's to Spring Break 2014!

A respectable display of holiday cheer at our December team meeting

No comments:

Post a Comment