I remember when the AIDS crisis was hitting the fan in the late 80s, and my mom was going to a funeral every week. I’m fairly sure I said something out loud about going to med school to be an infectious disease specialist so that I could find a cure. That didn’t exactly happen as planned, but who knows what they’re talking about when they are 13 anyways?
I signed up for the Peace Corps in 1999. I had spent years learning Spanish. They didn’t send me to a Spanish speaking country. I wanted to do HIV/AIDS work in Africa. They didn’t like the fact that I’m allergic to penicillin, so that didn’t happen. Boo. I had Nepal on my list, too. They never even mentioned it.
They mentioned Samoa though. I knew nothing. Except that I would be learning a totally different language, and that I was gonna be somewhere in the middle of the Pacific ocean. I was excited though, that the agency they matched me with was a non-governmental organization (NGO) who “needed” someone with the
ability to make shit up as they go along skillset I had. It worked out for the best. I fell in love with Samoa and continue to go back as often as I can. Everyone joked that I would come back married. And I did. Samoa was a game changer – totally changed the course of my life. In almost every way possible. While I won’t be in Tanzania for the same amount of time that I was in Samoa, I can’t imagine there not being some serious life impact.
I think everyone’s a little scared to predict what will happen in Tanzania (especially since I’m single again – ha!).
So, now that I’m departing for Tanzania in about 5 months, it does seem full circle. I remember wanting to go so badly for as long as I can remember to the African continent. That wanting to go to help, in some small way, hasn’t stopped. And the fact that someone else is helping to pay for it? Even better.