My name is Liz(zy) – your choice. My mom cannot stand the name Liz (which is odd since she named me), so I give the option as a courtesy for those of you who also have a particular dislike for the name. I am from Stilwell, Kansas. I attend Creighton University and am majoring in Medical Anthropology with minors in Spanish, Theology, and Journalism. Despite not lending itself to a tidy pre-professional track, I study such a hodge-podge hoping to better understand our shared human condition.
It seems that our mutual acquaintance is backpack photojournalism. I can only guess what has brought you here:
- Concern: you are a loved one of a fellow participant trying to gauge the character of the people with whom he/she will be traveling
- Curiosity: you are a prospective participant deciding if this program is for you
- Obligation: you are a member of my immediate family, and reading this blog feels like a requirement (and perhaps burden) after my persistent badgering
With more certainty than a guess, I can tell you what brought me here. Between finishing final exams and starting boot camp, I read Farther Away by Jonathan Franzen and A Nun on the Bus by Sister Simone Campbell. I draw from both to explain.
“When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to people, or just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might end up loving some of them. And who knows what might happen to you then?” (Franzen 2012, 14)
After reading this, I said to myself, “that’s it – enough with the sneering, Liz.” This response was reassurance that my intuition in enrolling in this program was not just a spontaneous oversight. Franzen suggests we personalize the world’s problems by putting ourselves in real relation to people. “A bottomless empathy” and “the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real are you are” (Franzen 2012, 9) mark such a relation. This kind of relation and its resulting love might not be entirely possible given our time constraints in Uganda but, nevertheless, will be pursued. I live for these real conversations with people in these real relations as sacred, shared spaces of creation. A creation that can, and hopefully will, “open our hearts to our better selves” (Campbell 2014).