Goodness me, this is a big step… You might automatically be thinking the heading-off-to-India bit, but I am referring to this blog fandango. Anybody who knows me and has tried to stay in regular contact knows that social media presence and I are not a very friendly duo. I think perhaps this might be the biggest challenge of Global Citizen Year. Forget the adjustment to an entirely new country and culture. Keeping a regular stream of thoughts going is never too much trouble, but sending it out into the virtual atmosphere… Well, we (you, my treasured readers, included) shall have to see how this goes!
Of course, my upcoming journey from Cape Town to San Francisco to Pune should not be overlooked. Especially considering that I fly to San Francisco in just a few days to begin Pre-Departure Training. It seems quite a strange prospect, travelling from one location almost as far west as possible, then all the way back east. But there is a point to it! You most probably know this by now, but just in case: in one week, I will begin a ‘Bridge Year’ with Global Citizen Year. In a nutshell, Global Citizen Year is a program designed to fit between secondary and tertiary education. After a few weeks of training in San Francisco, we will travel to one of four countries: Ecuador, Brazil, Senegal and India. There, we will live with a host family to learn the local language(s) and engage with the community culture while working in an international development apprenticeship. I am headed to Pune, India where I will work with Teach For India, an initiative working to “bridge the education inequity in India”.
As part of the skill set Global Citizen Year works to develop, fundraising is a tool I have recently set out to discover. To cover the expenses of this incredible experience, I received a wonderful scholarship from Global Citizen Year, as did many of my fellow Fellows. As a way to give back, we are working on our fundraising campaigns which will add to the Fellows Fund that provides these scholarships. Some more details of this campaign, as well as the Global Citizen Year program can be found on my fundraising page, here: https://donate.globalcitizenyear.org/fundraise?fcid=967390 If you can, any small donation would be greatly appreciated in helping me reach my fundraising goal of USD500.
With the days, hours and minutes ticking down before the beginning of this next journey, the excitement is building. Here are some things I look forward to:
1. Warm weather! As a Zimbabwean who has been deprived of summer for two years, this is big. Although I will most likely think otherwise when the temperature starts climbing above 30°C… I wonder if my body has forgotten how to deal with “very hot” after acclimatizing to Vancouver Island weather.
2. Connections. First, I am looking forward to meeting the rest of my cohort, hearing their stories and why they have also chosen this program. Then I cannot wait to meet the family I will stay with and the people I will work with daily.
3. Culture, as will come with new people and a new place. I have been trying not to assume what I will find, rather I am trying to open my mind to all the possibilities so that I am able to learn in an unbiased way during my time in Pune. I am sure there will be reflections to follow on this matter.
4. Learning a new language. Or maybe two. Pune is a major city in the province of Maharashtra and both Marathi and Hindi are spoken. As always, I cannot wait to learn how to twist my tongue properly around greetings, requests and the like. I hope that my attempts so far at learning the alphabets and basics will give me a leg-up.
5. Teaching. Let’s see if genetics will help me out here, given that both my parents are educators!
6. Delights of the palate. I have always claimed to love Indian food. My dad has found a new favourite restaurant here in Cape Town, and I have been trying out recipes from a book given to me by Pareen, a most special friend in Harare. Going to her house has always been a treat and to my utmost frustration, I can never make Chai Masala the same way as can be found on Dakota Drive! Now, every time I open the spice cupboard to reach for cumin, turmeric or ginger, I can’t help but wonder how different the real deal is going to taste. With a stroke of luck, I will even learn how to concoct these dishes myself over the next few months.
7. Everything else! No doubt there are countless elements to my imminent experience that I cannot begin to imagine as I sit here in front of a fire in wintry Cape Town. We may have combi drivers with a penchant for driving with little regard for any road rules and great regard for the hooter… but how will that compare to rickshaws? Or as the second image from a generic Google search on ‘Pune, India’ tells me, elephants in the road?
As it stands, there are still a few more details to figure out before I am set to take off. First, my passport from the visa office, preferably with an Indian visa in it, would be useful (don’t ask… that has been a mission and a half!). Next, I need to strategize how I am going to pack as light and conveniently as possible as well as prepare for two doses of jet lag… I must be off then!
Thank you – sukriya! – for reading this. If you haven’t subscribed, you can easily find the Subscribe button on this page if you would like to receive an email when I write my next posts. Feel free to reach out or comment as you virtually come along with me on my travels and growth as a blogger.