Saturday, September 17, 2011

Learning to Live with Gratitude, Not Attitude

I haven't written a blog post for a week - and for good reason.  I wasn't sure how I would manage to write a post without complaining.  Classes are hard.  My schedule is packed full of requirements: language partners, field trips, 4 hours of class in the morning, grammar lessons in the evenings.  Not to mention I no longer have running water which means bucket "showers", sweaty nights and cranky mornings.  Having a toilet to pee in is a luxury that is never guaranteed.  The food is sub-par.  Upset stomachs are abundant.  Getting lost is becoming the norm and timeliness is not a concept that is understood here.  Even when we go away on the weekends to chill out and gather our wits we encounter one obstacle after another before we are able to finally find a place to unwind.

This weekend my friends and I went to Bwejuu, a small town on the east coast of Zanzibar for the weekend.  Somehow, in the middle of paradise, it is easier to slip back into complaining about life in Stone Town rather than enjoy the beauty of where we are at.  This morning when I awoke I found that I was already in a less than ideal mood.  I had just woken up and I was already dreading returning back to life in the "projects" (the nickname we've given our humble little neighbor'hood').  On the one hour daladala ride back to town this afternoon, I put on my headphones, turned on my favorite playlist and took some time to just chill out.  I've decide to commit to focusing on the things that I am thankful for here.  I am living my dream.  Receiving a Boren Fellowship is a huge honor - one that was given to me.  Looking at the people around me, the villages we passed and the landscape I am privileged to see, gave me a little perspective.

I want to share with all of you some of the things that I am thankful for so far:

First and foremost, I have an amazing family and strong group of friends back home who I can always count on.  You have supported me, encouraged me to follow my dreams, prayed for me and cheered me on.  And you haven't forgotten about me now that I am halfway around the world.  I don't know what I would do without you!

Second, only to my friends and family back home, are the new friends I have made here.  To the gang I went to Nungwi with our first weekend in Zanzibar:  Judging by our first weekend together, we have a pretty incredible 3 months ahead of us.  We are so lucky to have plenty of crazy stories, DQ moments, good meals, cheap rooms, and even cheaper drinks to look forward to.  Here's to Ashley learning how to brush her teeth, Jenn chatting up the locals, Keavy avoiding any future run-ins with sea urchins, Roger remembering to pay for his meals, Kate avoiding any future food poisoning, Rusty finishing his Thank You's, and Stacey finding a better role model than her new big sis'.  Can't wait for the Full Moon Party, guys!  Thanks for joining me in the insanity.

Scaling a private wall in search of a place to crash in Page...

First afternoon out with the girls.

My sista from the 'hood

Keavy and Jenn - back from a run

Teaching the gang how to play Hold 'Em

Jenn getting a sea urchin removed with local "medicines"

I have plenty more to be thankful for.  Although living conditions are less than ideal, I have a house mom who loves having me.  She cares about where I'm going and what I'm doing.  My teacher at the university here is, in my opinion, the best teacher at SUZA and my class couldn't be better.  I have a huge room with plenty of closet space to hold all of the little luxuries I was fortunate enough to bring from home:  granola bars, Off Botanicals bug spray, plenty of summer outfits, a year's worth of Caudalie skin care products, magazines and candy bars from my girl (who just sent me a picture of herself with my Grandma!), photographs from home, beef jerky, room spray, extra laptop batteries, sound proof headphones, Starbucks Vias and 14 pair of shoes.  I have my pillow pet to sleep with every night and a necklace I wear every day to keep my sis' close to me.

On top of all of that, I am living the life I had always hoped I could live.  How amazing is that?  I get to live in Tanzania for a year and build new friendships that I already know will last a lifetime.  I have been given the chance to see parts of the world many will only ever dream about seeing.  I have the opportunity to explore issues that I am most passionate about.  I get to travel and better understand how people here live; to learn what their needs are and to hopefully discover what I can do to help.  And at the end of it all, this fellowship provides me with priority hiring status and a leg up into the federal government.

I am humbled and blessed.  I am reminded that life really is what you make of it.  By choosing to focus on what I am grateful for, rather than what isn't quite what I expected, I already feel better.  Thanks for listening...and if you're feeling the same way I was earlier today, give it a try.  Make a list.  We have been given so much more than we realize.

No comments:

Post a Comment