I am rich because of the experiences and people I encounter on my life’s journey. I am enlivened by the endless possibilities of travel and adventure – humbled by the vastness of the world. I believe travel and adventure can be found locally, and afar.
| May 10, 2016 |
The Universe has been working overtime in 2016 to manifest my dreams. I’ve been given an incredible array of opportunities, and am feeling ADVENTUROUS and CONNECTED with the world.
Let’s set the scene. Flashback to somewhere between 2007 and 2011. Picture little KConn in undergraduate college at Stony Brook University:
(Graduation with my #1 supporters – thanks a million Mama and Papa Conn)
Here I am, sub-22 years old, hungry for adventure and travel… but not yet connected to my heart/intuition to fight for my wanderlust desires. Once upon a KConn time, I sacrificed the option to study abroad because of my decision to be a Psychology major and run on D1 Cross Country + Track and Field teams. (Somehow, I couldn’t figure out how to fit studying art history in Florence into my B.S. Psychology. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.) I wasn’t going to Italy, London, or Paris for the semester because it would mean more time in school to finish my bachelor’s degree (psh, no thank you). I idolized my peers who traveled to second/third-world countries to provide volunteer services with orphanages and water conservation organizations. I was envious their experiences as they posted photos of grateful smiles from locals and project successes. However, I somehow felt under-qualified to venture on one of these volunteer missions. As a B.S. Psychology major pursuing a career in physical therapy, did I have anything to give? Of course, I knew I would be supported in my endeavors by the organization I chose, but I decided to wait until I was truly READY. I put the mission trip idea on the back burner… for a long time.
In my first year of Physical Therapy school, one of my professors reignited my hunger in a presentation on his travels to Haiti as a volunteer Physical Therapist. He spoke of amputees, disabled children, and the devastation plaguing Haiti after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake of 2010. I was inspired by his ability to influence a less fortunate population, and I knew I would need to carry out a similar mission in my career. I imagined how fulfilling it would be to use my passion for Physical Therapy to service people who may not have access to quality care. I wanted (nay, NEEDED) to find a way to make it happen.
Fast forward to 2016. The Universe decided I was finally ready for a mission trip (HALLELUJAH)! I was invited to join three licensed Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPTs) and 18 students in the DPT program at Northwestern University on a volunteer trip to Tanzania, Africa. Furthermore, I would work with children – a perfect fit for my passion and current specialization in pediatrics. I could not fathom the reality of this opportunity – I would actually be able to use my skill set to make a lasting impact abroad, and my heart and soul were 150% invested in the idea.
| May 5, 2016 |
Arusha is a city in Northern Tanzania, and capital of the Arusha Region. It is located directly below Mt. Meru of the Great Rift Valley at an elevation of 4,551ft (1,387m) and has a temperate climate. Accessible sites from Arusha include: Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Convservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, Arusha National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Mount Meru (to name a few). When visiting the national parks, some time could certainly be allotted to exploring Arusha. In our EduTours Africa Mission Trip, we spent the first 8 nights in Arusha at Outpost Lodge while volunteering, so our evenings were filled with local sights. This is the second installment of my Arusha adventure recommendations!
Last Highlight: Mt. Meru Waterfall Hike
See Next: IBUKA DANCE Foundation, Cultural Heritage Center, Clock Tower, Mt. Kilimanjaro viewing, Maasai village visit, Maasai market, Shanga Shangaa, Kimemo Holdings Ltd.
| May 4, 2016 |
During my two-week stay in Tanzania, the EduTours Africa group organized many excursions as part of our volunteer/cultural experience package. Unlike my previous trips, I did not play a role in planning/coordinating the details of these adventures, but they’re all worth exploring when visiting Tanzania (specifically the Arusha/Manyara region). We spent a few days in Arusha, Tanzania, for our volunteer missions and explored the city in our free time. This is the first installment of attractions near Arusha!
Today’s Highlight: Mt. Meru Waterfall Hike
Coming Up Next: IBUKA DANCE Foundation, Cultural Heritage Center, Clock Tower, Mt. Kilimanjaro viewing, Maasai village visit, Maasai market, Shanga Shangaa, Kimemo Holdings Ltd.
| May 2, 2016 |
I fell in love the way you fall asleep:
Slowly, and then all at once.
– John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars” –
I never thought it would be this difficult to verbalize my two weeks in Tanzania. It seems as if I were away for an eternity with the amount I learned and grew during my Volunteer Mission Trip with EduTours Africa. It is now one week since my return to the United States, and I’ve finally weaved through the 1.5K photos I took, read my handwritten journal (yes, I was tech-free on this trip), and processed my experiences (kind of). Before I left for Tanzania, I thought I understood the magnitude of “wanderlust,” but my experience in East Africa gave my wanderlust heart a new beat. As I journeyed with like-minded Physical Therapists and DPT students, I felt inspired beyond comprehension. The culture, landscapes, and people I encountered in the country enhanced my belief in the good of the world and the expansive, unimaginable beauty afar. I was in constant awe, with each day posing new surprises and deepening my appreciation for Tanzania and Africa. In a mere two weeks, I felt completely integrated into the culture, and one with the people.
Disclaimer: I attempted to limit this list to 5 items, but it would do injustice to my true feelings for Tanzania and East Africa. So, here’s my not-so-succinct, 13-item list of ways I fell in love with Tanzania.
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