with question marks in my eye

Victoria Tran-Trinh - Senegal


September 18, 2009

As the only fellow who has yet to write a blog post, I’m forcing myself to write today – only three days before our Global Citizen Years officially start – out of guilt and a little bit of embarrassment. It’s not that I forgot about it, I just honestly could not think of anything to say. It seemed very bland and quick to introduce myself:

Victoria Vu-Nghi Tran-Trinh, age 17, half Vietnamese and half Chinese but born and raised in Boston (the real Boston).

Likes: vegan food, vegan shoes, human rights work, LOTS of music, writing, fashion, indie flicks, books and puppies.

Dislikes: sleeping in, the Twilight series, suburbia, improper grammar and incorrect spelling, Styrofoam, books-turned-movies and my lack of an artistic forte.

Besides that, I didn’t feel like I had much of importance to share. I’ve been extremely excited about going to Senegal ever since I found out I was going, but I couldn’t express it in enough words to fulfill a blog requirement. Besides, I have been keeping myself busy doing things that to many, including my mother (hi Mom!), may have seemed like a waste of time. Any time this summer not spent traveling has been spent visiting friends’ dorms, going to goodbye parties, cooking with my boyfriend and just greedily soaking up as much time with the people I love as possible.  I probably should have focused more on preparing for my departure, but really, I can’t imagine a more rewarding and valuable way to prepare. My mind and heart have been and continue to be almost overwhelmed by bouncing between “work” and “play,” although I wouldn’t say that either of those words are apt to describe anything I’ve been doing.

The realities of what I’m doing have slowly been starting to hit me in unexpected ways. First, it was my haircut. I decided to have my trademark long, wild mane chopped off to a short, tame pixie/bob, in anticipation of bucket baths and lack of conditioner. Usually, a girl’s feelings toward a drastic haircut get better with time. My spirits have not. They started out high and slowly descended to where I am now, a plateau of resignation and acceptance. I feel like I have to defend myself to readers of the fellow blogs who don’t know me and state emphatically that I am NOT the girl who gets upset over a haircut. It’s not even a bad haircut. It’s just that my lost length represents, to me, an enormous change in lifestyle, and I am very reluctantly allowing myself to be the tiniest bit nervous about it.

Secondly, it was my vaccinations. Shots stopped making me squeamish about 12 years ago, so nobody was more surprised than me when I fainted dead away after my typhoid and Hepatitis B double-header. I had never before legitimately fainted, so I was more amused than anything when I awoke on the floor a few seconds later. However, I also saw it as a sort of concrete sign that the days of starting on 2 hours of sleep and an empty stomach were undoubtedly over, like the universe was smacking me in the back of the head and telling me to start thinking seriously about getting ready. I had to start taking every aspect of my future life more into consideration while living my current one.

The final item on my list of ostensibly innocuous events is shopping and packing. Shopping for my “Africa wardrobe” has been an experience in many ways. Yet again there was the tangible contrast between my “old” and “new” lives – a switch from an extensive, carefully curated wardrobe in mostly shades of architectural or form-fitting black and gray to a suitcase full of colorful, billowy new garments. There was also a biting irony in the fact that I was spending money on expensive outdoorsy sandals to work on global poverty in a place where I expect people to be barefoot or in cheap flip flops. Everything about acquiring things to bring to Senegal really caused a riot of thought in my head. I’m pretty much finished packing now, and looking at the suitcase by my bedroom door is a constant reminder of where I’m going with it in a few days.

That’s all I can get out in a coherent fashion today. I hope it “works,” and was interesting or compelling to read. I also hope to be blogging in shorter, more frequent posts from now on!

Victoria

Victoria Tran-Trinh