I’m bringing back the gift of appreciation, and not just the please and thank you kind, a deeper and more fully understood appreciation. I have the opportunity to study and pursue my future career goals when thousands of children simply desire to attend school and receive an education. I drink clean water, eat more than sufficient amounts of food, and live underneath a sturdy roof in a comfortable house. I possess more material objects than I need and do not express my gratitude nearly as often I should.
I’m bringing back a new sense of strength in myself that had been buried in me for a while now. I witnessed the pain and struggling of people who in some ways are not so different from me at all. If they are able to wake up every day and live their lives to the best of their ability, so can I. The human spirit, the will not just to be alive but to live, is a powerful force and feeling that spirit from others reminded me I also needed to find it in myself.
Lastly, I’m bringing back the gift of experience. It is my responsibility to make sure these two weeks of my life do not stay in Uganda forever. Even though it may be uncomfortable or awkward, sharing the hard parts of the trip is just as important as raving about the landscape or seeing a leopard ten feet away from our bus. Sharing my experience with others also allows me to process lingering emotions or questions.
Yes, I bought plenty of physical reminders of Africa and the flag of Uganda will hang in my room for a very long time, but those aren’t the type of gifts I will cherish most.
Keep on keepin’ on,
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard