In the middle of fall semester Ithaca College announced the possibility of traveling to Africa for the summer to participate in a service trip with Operation Crossroads Africa. Although I was initially interested, I didn't give too much thought to applying. Oh yeah, I'll do that next weekend. Right. Needless to say, a few months went by and it wasn't until the day prior to the application due date that I finally recognized my procrastination. I remember sitting in the library trying to figure out if I cared more about studying for that final tomorrow or attempting to complete the application. Eventually I realized that I didn't have anything to lose by filling out the application (aside from that final grade), and a lot to gain. As I wrote the essays I slowly started to comprehend how amazing of an experience this could be. Even after I completed the application, I couldn't stop thinking about how incredible it would be if I was able to go. I couldn't get the trip off my mind. When I found out I was one of students selected for the trip I was overjoyed, but the reality of me actually going to Africa is just starting to set in now.
Tomorrow (June 18th) I head to NYC for a few days of orientation with my group before flying to Senegal and taking a bus to our final destination of Jambanjelly Village in Gambia. My group, none of whom I know, will be spending the next two months working on completing a library for the village. Jambanjelly has no running water, no electricity, and no all-you-can-eat buffets. I've gotten all 400 shots, pretty much finished packing, and feel about as prepared as I'm ever going to feel.
Although I know relatively nothing about what will be in store for me over the next two months, I can comfortably say that this will probably be one of the defining experiences of my life.
Before I forget, I want to thank Dean Lynch, Bob Iger, Michelle Diemer, and Reginald Simmon's family for everything they have done. This trip wouldn't be a reality without all of your help.
This blog will be my primary source of communicating with everyone out in the 1st world. I will attempt to check in as often as possible, but I can't make any promises. I can still receive e-mail at Jgoodwi1@ithaca.edu but please understand I might not have the time to respond. Also, please attempt to forgive my spelling, grammatical, and sentence structure errors. Let's just say writing has never been my forte.