I am currently in Houston, Texas writing this post waiting for my flight to board to Bogota, Columbia. From there I will be taking another flight to Cusco, Peru where I will be spending six weeks in a homestay interning at an NGO for human rights through Maximo Nivel.
You know that feeling when you have no clue what you’re doing? Maybe for some of you it’s more than a feeling—Boston’s classic song title unintended, but still relevant— maybe it’s a lifestyle. For me, I like to know what I’m doing at all times. I need a schedule to follow and even if that schedule is tweaked, at least I can have a different plan based off of the original schedule. Yes, I know I’m crazy. I’m your typical who needs a planner when you have me? Just give me some colored gel pens, a nice notebook and maybe chocolate cake and I’m your gal— who am I kidding, I’d plan your life even without the chocolate cake.
But when it comes to this trip, it feels different because for one of the first times in my life I don’t know what I’m doing. For my friends reading, I’m sure you might be shocked. “Ciara? Ciara doesn’t know what she’s doing? That can’t be true!”
Yes, random friend, it is true. I’ve traveled before, a good amount in comparison to some of my peers— Peru being the 16th country I’ve visited. But I’ve never been to South America and neither has my dad who’s done a whole slew of trips. My Spanish is mediocre; I took 4 years of Spanish in high school and even a class last quarter but ask me to hold a genuine conversation and that my friend is a feat I still have to achieve. In terms of my program, my internship is still somewhat up in the air in terms of responsibilities and I learned my host mom’s name less than five days ago. Do I know where I’m living? No. Do I know anyone there? No. Will there be other college students there? I don’t know. Did I pack correctly given that it’s sunny and 65 degrees in the afternoon and 30 degrees at night? Yo no sé 🙂
For the entirety of spring quarter, I was concerned that I didn’t have answers. In addition to this first-world problem of mine, I was also seriously concerned that through doing human rights work abroad, I’d be perpetuating the savior complex and not adding any value, but just boosting my own ego. I was so concerned I wrote a 10-page research paper and created a website on the pros and cons of “voluntourism” and how to avoid this complex, solely based on this trip.
In all honesty, I got The Jean Donovan Fellowship to do some good, but have no clue if I’m about to do good or really anything at all. What I do know is that whatever is in store for me for the next 6 weeks, is gonna be good. It’s gonna be good because you don’t grow from comfort, and the little things in life make life worth living. So I guess we’ll see!