Thinkers: We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.
People say that I should stop thinking so much. I respond that they should just ask me to stop breathing. It’s what I do. I was blessed to be able to do a lot of thinking in Ghana. In the beginning, middle and end of the hard work, it is customary to have a meeting and discuss what is happening (again I am reminded of American culture). I would usually take that time to snap photos or to just observe what was taking place. I did a lot of thinking, feeling, and absorbing in those moments. Currently I am currently sitting in the London airport getting reacquainted with my western life. I’d be lying if I said I looked upon the bright lights, shops, hot cappuccino, clean floors, etc in disgust. I may still have dirt under my fingernails but I haven’t forgotten how to hold a glass of prosecco! (I am worried about the upcoming Christmas season of excess, but hey, I’m always dreading that, so what really is new there?) However, I just opened up my computer to catch a glimpse of the last photos I took and tears sprang to my eyes. The connection to the people I met this week will be forever with me. I feel very protective of them.
I had so much fun this week THINKING. I was in constant awe. I compared, I contrasted, I problem solved, I gave up on problem solving, I contemplated, I pondered. It is the part that will prompt growth in myself for the future. It will be the part that will propel future choices, will shape how I look at the world. But, it’s the connection, the emotion, that I felt with the country and the people that will fuel that change. I can enjoy all that our country has to offer, but I no longer just think of myself as I do so. I have faces, smiles, and curious eyes in my memory that I take along with me. I say that WATERisLIFE works on providing the basic needs to people around the world and when you meet those people, the connection will be felt to them at a basic level as well. No words needed, no thinking needed, just heart. Save your brain cells though, the thinking will come later when you are trying to make their world a little better or when you are trying to hold on to what they showed you about the basics of life.
o you all!
Reflective: We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.
There are many things that I know to be true in my life and one of those things is that the people of the United States are predominately generous and caring people. Like me, I’m sure many of them get frustrated, however, trying to choose where their hard earned money goes philanthropically that makes the most difference and that is trustworthy. I’m halfway home and my reflection today is really an ode to the organization of WATERisLIFE. I have been friends with members of the team for years. I have listened to their stories and watched them grow with their efforts bringing in hygiene, sanitation and water to areas that are in desperate need. I HOPED that they walked the walk that they talked. On my tenth day with them, I can 100% say that I know that they are everything that I hoped them to be and then some. But then again, I figured that out on day two.
What does it take to mobilize a team in a third world country, including a child, for ten days? I will not bore you with the details but it takes a lot! Not to mention, this a working trip, meaning the team is there to GET THINGS DONE. Much planning ahead is needed. Organization with local leaders is happening constantly, and executing the job in a very short time frame must be done. Oh, and did I mention they have to make sure everyone is safe, taking care of themselves properly, keeping in touch with worried family members, and generally juggling all of these areas at one time? Not to mention, the work that is getting accomplished is satisfying a very basic human need. I could not be more impressed.
I am very reflective about many things today. However, I wanted to take a moment to recognize that I’m allowed to be reflective about all the amazing things I encountered this week due to a wonderful organization that made all of that possible. Impressively. I would absolutely put my teenager in their hands. I hope to go back one day or to another project location. Not often do you go into a trip knowing it will be a life changer, and I will be forever grateful to Odyssey and WATERisLIFE for the opportunity. Changed, I am.
Communicator: We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.
Austin is the 14 year-old boy that went with us on this trip and I was curious to see how a child did on a trip of this magnitude. The beautiful thing about this journey is that we all get different things out of it. He has done an amazing job at being patient and going with the flow. He has been a helper in the field making the water station and a champion of making the most of the time that we have here. Has there been moments when I wanted to ground him? Sure. He’s a teenager, I’m a mom, he is predominately surrounded by adults, and has an opinion about most things. Did I mention that we have a commute to the village and back every day that is an hour each way? We are hot, squished in the back of a vehicle and the traffic is typical of every international driving experience you’ve ever had…..crazy.
Let me tell you what is amazing about having Austin here with us, though. He communicates with the children in village in a way that is the most sincere and sweet that I could ever imagine. I am in awe of how he connects with them. The children look at me with trepidation, curiosity, and if they are very little, fear. In some cases, they test what I can give them during my visit. With Austin, all they want is to play, and play is what he gives them. He is a big kid and surely he can be intimidating to them. Yet, has the most gentle spirit with them, they are drawn like a magnet. His kindness and patience is communicated to them without needing to speak a word. He is a friend for life without needing to tell them so out loud. Sometimes, I’ve decided, what is communicated through actions is just as important as the words that come from our mouths.
I am blessed to witness this type of international communication through children here in Ghana. Hope is found when we can find common ground at any level. But, if that kid finishes my sentence one more time, he is grounded for sure. :)