Archive for the ‘The Whys’ Category

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A word on photos

March 9, 2007

When I first arrived in India, there was some controversy over a volunteer taking photos they were expressly asked not to take. I understand the urge — I felt it the first time I volunteered in Jamaica. My brain couldn’t comprehend the poverty, the disease, and the conditions we were seeing. I knew I could never exaggerate enough to explain it to people at home and I wanted to capture the images to illustrate what I was experiencing. The second year, I shot a quarter of the photos, and what different photos they were. And after that? No camera.

For certain, we are seeing extreme poverty, horrific illness and injury, intense hunger, tragic circumstances, and things that keep us up at night. But the last thing I want to do in those times is start snapping pictures. (Gods help the person who tries to shove a camera in my face to record my personal pain, or even long-lens their way into my life without permission.) Read the rest of this entry ?

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Why now?

December 18, 2006

So, I lure Damon out east and then decide to just take off the minute he’s settled in? That’s not exactly what happened, but as it has been jokingly suggested by more than one bystander, I thought the “Why now?” might be worth sharing. I had hoped to take this trip last spring, but un-fun life events intervened, and I became convinced I might never get back on this particular horse. To call that realization ‘discouraging’ would be an understatement — I hated what it said about me and my future, in the big-picture sense. So back in October, I thought I’d start tip-toeing back in this direction and re-initiated CCS conversations with early 2008 in mind. I was certain it would take me that long to know if I was still up for it, to do the proper planning, to save enough money to cover the bills while I was gone and to regain the lost confidence and independence to undertake this sort of solo travel to an unfamiliar place.

And then CCS offered a way-too-soon start-date of February 2007. February 11th, in point of fact. Turns out that’s one year to the day I was assaulted by the intruder that broke into my home while I slept. The day that asshole changed everything about how I see the world and myself in it. I couldn’t believe the timing: the coincidence seemed almost too perfect — cliched, even. But, funny thing, coincidences. Often times they’re not. So, the hell with planning, and organizing, and a gentle, tentative easing back into something resembling normal for me. Here’s what I think about lost confidence and M.I.A. independence: screw the baby steps. I’m going to India and I’m going in seven weeks. Whoa.

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Why there?

December 17, 2006

statue3.jpgIt’s hard not to be interested in and inspired by Indian culture. The rich history, the extraordinary architecture, the healing arts, the (somewhat) peaceful coexistance of so many of the world’s religions, the varied mythical landscapes, the exotic wildlife, the gorgeous craftsmanship of traditional silverwork and sari fabrics, and of course, the food. Good Lord, the food. These things were the gravy, though — the free gift with purchase — when I made the decision to travel to India. Of the ten countries where CCS supports volunteers, it turned out that my interests and skills seemed rather suited to the type of work that might need doing in and around Delhi. Plus, after working with Missionaries of Charity in Kingston, Jamaica, I’ll confess to something of a ten-year yearning to follow the trail back to the source. Back to the beginning to have a look at Mother Teresa’s home field. Dig.

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Why in the world?

December 7, 2006

Waiting so long to post a second time certainly isn’t the best way to get a little blog up and running, but like everyone in December, I’ve been in the proverbial weeds. Back now, and happy to say that the response from family and friends about my plans has made me even more excited to take this journey. So many people seem as enthusiastic about it as I am and that is beyond cool. Everyone wants to know everything, and it seems the same questions come up in every conversation: where I’ll be, what the work will be like, what my living conditions will be, why does it cost me money to volunteer, will I get to sight-see or travel, what if I get sick, etc. My answers to these questions are evolving in real-time, as my pre-trip orientation gets underway, and I’m taken in to the CCS fold. I hope to answer each of them more fully in this space, over time. Today, though, I was thinking about one question that took me a bit off-guard. An acquaintance looked at me quizzically and asked “Why in the world would you want to do something like that?

Huh. It wasn’t that I was stumped for an answer — it was the question itself that threw me. Whaddya mean, “Why?” It seemed confrontational. Rhetorical. Like looking at your girlfriend and saying “So, you’re wearing that to the party?” I started to respond, but stumbled in my defensiveness and ended up walking away frustrated and confused. I know why I’m going, but why do I have to explain myself to him? Read the rest of this entry ?

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First post

November 28, 2006

So, here it is: my little India blog about the upcoming volunteer trip. Part of me is all grinny and excited to have a tiny spot online to share this experience with friends and family. The other part (Remember the slightly disaffected teenager dressing in thrift-shop-relics and prone to argue the point, just because? Her.) worries that it’s self-aggrandizing/indulgent to write about my plans, and assume that anyone, anywhere would have even a passing interest in the result. But enthusiasm and utility won out, and here I am, hoping this thing doesn’t seem too presumptuous and hoping it helps make keeping in touch a bit easier. Stop by whenever; there’s always a jar of pretzels on the counter and a couple of bottles of sparkling lemonade in the fridge.

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To back up some, this whole thing grew out of a several-year search for a new international volunteer opportunity. Something somewhere between the week-long trips I’ve done to Kingston, (that are fulfilling and exhausting but never quite feel like enough) and making the life-altering two-year Peace Corps commitment. After researching many different avenues, I’ve connected with Cross-Cultural Solutions, a United Nations and CARE-affiliated group that connects volunteers with existing aid organizations and community programs within host countries, for placements that range from 2-12 weeks. It really seems like they offer a truly immersive experience with the chance to engage in the work as a lifestyle, rather than a project on a short-break. Exactly what I’m looking for.

So… on February 11th, I’ll begin service in Delhi, India. Read the rest of this entry ?