so, it looks like tonight’s my last day here in indiana before heading out on my grand adventure.

Niki, go conquer the world! hmmm. okay. i guess.

i bought luggage to replace the boxes i was using instead.  i skyped a good friend.  i went outside and tried to make a snowman (failed).  i hugged my grandmother, but carefully so as not to touch her sensitive post-op chest.  talked politics with my father.  i reprimanded my cat for scratching my mother’s favorite chair.  all done with a weird anxiousness that’s hard to describe.  i can’t even quite explain what i’m so nervous about.

true – there are the usual suspects – the war, will folks like me, the students, will i be effective…. all valid fears.  but really, none of that really shakes me when i think about it.  maybe its a sum of it all.  the unknown.  hoping for expectations to be delivered.  simply surviving the trek.

at this point, i’ve read countless blogs written by western men and women of several different backgrounds and missions who have spent time there.  as with anything, there are a multitude of opinions.  but.  all these voices-  as far as i could tell – were all white westerners.  kind of made me reconsider what it means to be “western.”  i mean, i know i’m american – but… am i really western?  i suppose so.  that i (my ancestors) was stolen from far away lands and made to be forced labor gives me an awkward relationship with that phrase.  western.  but then, if not western then what?  i’m not really african.  my bloodline says so, but physically, i can’t point to one country/tribe/tongue/family and say that’s ME – that’s MINE.  so, i think like many african americans, we’re kind of in a strange limbo land.  i know, most other americans don’t quite understand that.  they don’t get that there’s an unspoken sadness & anger related to our limbo land ancestry. so, when i go to foreign lands as a … a “westerner” – it kind of leaves this weird residue on my lips.  it could be the implied colonial/imperialism… perhaps.  it could just be the way on one hand there’s this odd aura of superiority.  the way “we” do things… or… hmm.  again, so many feelings i haven’t quite figured out the words to use to describe.  i hope this experience may lend a hand in that way.

so, as i venture out into the cold, hard world – what does that mean for me?  how will i relate (or not) to those around me? perhaps i’ll identify with some reality the kids face in a way i’d never even considered.  this will be interesting.  i have so much to learn.  i can’t wait to drink it all in.  it’s almost as if what i’m there to teach is secondary.  i’m excited and nervous.  and i suppose that’s ok too.  i’m a black girl from america traveling to a conflict-zone by non-military choice.  i wonder how many of us are there like that?  i wonder so many many things.

Off to see the other side of the world tomorrow.  What a traveling day it will be!

Written by Niki

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