Thursday, January 30, 2014

If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears. . .

I’ll start by introducing myself. My name is Krystal. I am doing the Advanced Standing Masters in Social Work at NCSU. I intern at Stop Hunger Now, focusing a lot on the coordination of this trip, this class, and this work. I love working there. I love the people I work, I love the way that they humbly engage with international partners, I love the way they are always growing as an organization. My MSW program is the best academic environment I have ever been in. I’m challenged and stretched and I believe that what I learn is preparing me and equipping me to do work once I graduate. I am not sure what kind of work this is yet, but I trust that I will know when I need to know, and because of this program I will be adequately prepared to thrive in it. Last night we met at Dr. Marcie Fisher Borne’s (our professor) house for our pre trip gathering. It was a rich evening together. As a student, it is a rare privilege to have a professor open up their life with their class as many times the separation of work and life is one that is not breached. Not Marcie. It was clear that she was delighted to share her family with us, and they hosted well: cooking a beautiful meal, providing space for us to gather and the fun and lightheartedness that adorable young children bring. We did our first reflection activity, sharing our intentions with one another: what we hope to be on this trip. A thoughtful group, members discussed their desire to be present, to be open to the experience and open with classmates, to do meaningful research, to engage with the people, to practice sharing space well. Members talked about their process of preparation and things that might challenging for them: missing family, getting over sickness, the life that will keep happening here while we are gone. As each member spoke we tossed yarn to one another, weaving the group in a web of connectedness-showing that these intentions are not only personal, but also deeply communal. Intentions that we will hold one another to in gentle and gracious ways. We discussed all sorts of other things that may seem small but matter. Things like the right clothes to wear, and random items worth packing, the itinerary, how we will do field visits, what’s worth bringing and what’s better to leave-small things, yes, but things that matter when you are traveling abroad. As I write, its Monday morning, and I know that in less than four days (at 3:45 am on Friday to be exact) this same group will meet at RDU, nervous and excited, bags filled with sunscreen and bug spray and snacks. With notebooks and clothes for every situation and other quirky comfort things and we will make our way down to Punta Cana where our journey will begin. There is much to be done this week, and I hope that we are able to see the preparation process as part of the experience, and not as tedious or “one more thing” in an overfilled schedule. As we are packing, there is a quote by Cesare Pavese that I’d like to end on:

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