| May 12, 2016 |
One of Africa’s natural wonders. Vast plains and forests. Biodiverse grazers, prey, predators, and threatened species. Waterways and dust-kicking paths. Coexistence with nomadic, pastoral Maasai. A wide-open sanctuary. Pure and untouched.
This 14-mile diameter, 600-meter deep, 300 square kilometer, gaping volcanic caldera is home to an expansive array of wildlife and dramatic scenery. As our group piled into safari jeeps with 360-degree views available, we were unsure what would be in store on our Ngorongoro Crater safari. I crossed my fingers for the sighting of ONE lion, and maybe ONE of the other “Big Five” (lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant leopard). Little did I know our full-day game drive would reveal the most impressive array of wildlife…
| May 11, 2016 |
Going on a mission trip can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. My heart is filled with gratitude for my immense growth as a clinician and individual during my time in Tanzania. Everyone wants to know there’s hope, and enlightening the staff and families who care for the children at Step by Step Learning Centre (SSLC) was powerful. The genuine nature of the people we worked with was a blessing, as there are certainly voluntourism disasters in the world. I did not once feel I was overstepping boundaries or unwelcome. In fact, I felt nothing but love. I left Tanzania with renewed appreciation for resources in the United States and belief in the undeniable power of physical therapy.
After the success of my first mission trip, I would like to share some advice to apply to the learning process. Preparing for a mission trip is a spiritual, emotional, and involved process. Because my heart was committed to making the most of this experience, I am bursting with wisdom to share.
| 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.