Monday, July 13, 2009

Anticipation and Preparation - Jeremy Weber

My sister-in-law recently asked me what I expected this trip to be like. I gave her the same answer that I would give anybody in reference to any trip I ever take; I try to research enough to try to get an idea of what the place will be like in terms of weather and culture. However, I've learned that no matter how much research you do it will always be different from what you expect, so I try to go into it with a blank slate. I keep my mind as open as possible to get the fullest experience possible. I don't want preconceived filters in the way. I also told her that I expect nothing less than a life-changing experience--and nothing more.

I've also been remembering the time that I've spent in Europe, where there is evidence of the depth of history just about wherever you look. As open as I want to be for this trip to Africa, where I've always dreamed of going, I am also trying to prepare myself to not be overwhelmed by the immensity of the cultural, spiritual, and natural history.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to go to Africa and do what I got into Extension for in the first place. And I would encourage anyone and everyone to participate in an international program like this.

"The World Awaits" by John Harlin (Backpacker Contributing Editor) Feb. 1, 1998

"Here be dragons" read the ancient maps wherever a blank corner seemed big enough to hold the fabled creatures. And for most of us, the dragons still roar. Sure, we know all about the incredible shrinking world. We know that there are only 6 degrees of separation between a Tibetan yak herder and Kevin Bacon, that the one can call the other on a cell phone. We read National Geographic monthly, Time weekly, and watch the world news nightly. Sitting there in the living room with a glass of wine in hand, we feel we know the world-until we actually consider packing the bags and hiking from Zanskar to Ladakh. Then butterflies flutter in our stomachs and dragons roar in our brains. Yes, the world is bigger than our favorite section of the Appalachian Trail. When we strike off for lands that we've never seen, things take us by surprise. But that's the way it should be because those surprises breed a fascination that lasts a lifetime.

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