On your marks…

Giovanna Hunsrao - Senegal


August 24, 2018

Reporting for Duty – Senegal fellow 2019. Which one? Simple. The one who runs to her vaccinations 2 days before her flight and still hasn’t stuffed her soul with Dim sum that’s who. I’m Giovanna, and you may know me for that or much more than that. Here, I want to add an extension to myself I’m sure I’ll hold for a life time ahead. But first, let me start with the fundamentals to give you a clearer picture. 
I believe in energy and hope, and with that I manifested for myself this experience – one where I travel miles away from a city called home to Senegal, Africa. Why I did it? 3 simple E’s. Experience, empathy and engagement. I’ve lived my short life figuring out my identity, trying and pushing to find my definition. Yet no matter how much you try, I promise you’ll never ever be content with the results. I came to conclusions and accepted that I can define myself however I want, because I am the only one who can control my experiences and the people I surround myself with, which will inevitably become me. I’ve thought this through for a year, and after countless fear and hesitation, I’ve decided overthinking this one decision will lead no where but regret. As a "once upon a time" expert in overthinking, I can tell you with full confidence that our brain can trick us into so much, but amazingly our planet works in pairs. As much as your brain can trick you, you similarly can control and train this muscle. I looked at all the fear clogging my system and I trained it into excitement. Every time I caught myself petrified of the fact I had to leave air-conditioned malls and my cat purring in the morning, I made myself think how amazing it would be to come back 9 months later with all this waiting for me, and most importantly the gratitude I will feel during my journey in Senegal for all I have been blessed with. I learnt to steer with my heart . Your brain is accustomed to your habitual patterns, and that’s probably why it’s so hard to leave what’s comfortable and familiar behind. However, as the creator of these habits, I promise you also have the ability to unlink and create new habits and security for yourself. 
Now you may ask, WOW Gio you seem to have it all together! Frankly, no. It took so much hardship to come to this point, yet I’ll never say it wasn’t worth while. I have so many people I thank for the past year which led to this braver and happier lady sitting her on the Shanghai metro. Healed and head stronger than ever, I spent a year in and out of mental peace , self-doubt, and too much trouble to get here, but I want each one of you to look and see how much pain can make you grow. If there had to be a time I had to be ready to go to Senegal, now would be the best time. 2 years of boarding school and 4 months of travelling later, the people I have met along the way have given me the confident and memories to believe in myself and my worth again. 
So Giovanna what are you looking forward to? Are you going to miss anything? Oh where do I begin. The future is all about possibilities, and the 9 months ahead of me will surely bring nothing but that. But to be frank, what I’m most excited for is to report back all my amazing experiences, because there is nothing like story time sessions with overdramatic Miss Hunsrao. I can already see myself calling up my parents and my friends and giggling about all the day to day adventures I’ll be embarking on. I’m ecstatic just thinking about teaching a class cute Senegalese kids and tearing up when I’ll come time to leaving. I’m ready for adding Senegalese music to my playlist and learning to pronounce the lyrics with my 10 host siblings. There is so much to look forward to choosing one seems unfair. Yet, I have realized a lot in life is a give and take. Only by leaving behind my comfort zone, I’ll be able to go beyond my expectations. Being the sentimental person I am, i know I’ll be tough at first because I’ll miss just about everything. From the speed walkers on the train at 9 in the morning to the smell of Indian spices in my house, but with that I’ll also learnt to love the sight of colourful local clothing to sharing every meal in one plate with my host family. Lastly, how can we forget food. 
So Giovanna are you ready? Ready as I can be. I cannot control the future and all that shall happen, but I can hope for simply the best and keep manifesting positivity in the present moment. I’ll be a long journey, but I hope you are as ready as I am to learn and be on this journey. I’ll be updating this blog and posting pictures and videos whether I can, so do subscribe to follow my adventure and I shall be super grateful. I’m so thankful and buzzed with anticipation. Reporting from Shanghai International Airport – see you on the other side. 
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Giovanna Hunsrao