Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Anxious, Curious, and Excited

By Gloria Tran

In the days leading up to my arrival to Uganda, I received lots of encouragement and admiration from well-wishers - family, friends and strangers I met on planes alike. I accepted these meekly, as my upcoming two months of "community development" work seems rather surreal in my mind, even now. 

Going in, I want to try to have a completely open mind to the challenges and experiences ahead, which is not hard to do, because in fact, I'm not sure what to expect. For this reason, I'm also overwhelmed by a striking sense of humility. Having no real previous public health experience, it's intimidating for me to think that I'll be helping an entire village community of two thousand residents halfway around the world to select a sustainable health team, for example. It's also just inspiring that such a community would welcome the help of volunteers. But like the UVP staff members and board have advised, to be successful, don't expect to know all the answers. 

Nevertheless, I know that I'll experience incredible growth during my stay here. Until a couple of months ago, volunteering in rural Africa was only something I aspired to - I never thought I would be here actually. I know this will foster an appreciation as well as serve as a solid starting point for experience in the public health field. More than that, the thing I’m most excited about is the opportunity to interact with the people of Kazigo Village B. I get to practice both problem-solving and being in a position of an educator, which is really important in a future of medicine. 

Finally, I'm anxious, curious, and excited about living away from all the technological luxuries we take so easily for granted. It’ll be different, and will take a lot of adjusting to, but I think it'll be a valuable period of mental cleansing!

Gloria Tran is currently a UVP intern. She did her undergraduate work at CalTech and will be starting medical school at the University of California, San Diego in the fall. 

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