Interpersonal Growth after the Mara

October? Already? Time is flying during our internship in East Africa. If I had to select a (hyphenated) word to describe my time so far I would choose “thought-provoking”. I did not know what to expect when I jumped on the airplane during the last week of August; rather, I knew I would have to go-with-the-flow in most situations. Well, the flow is going and I am enjoying wrapping my head around it.

I have a desire to continuously examine myself. This is not always easy for me; however, I strive to make it a habit. For example, driving home from the Masai Mara (which was one of the coolest weekends of my life) involved 6 hours of quiet time with tired safari friends. In between listening to podcasts and reading my book, I entered the proverbial pathways of my own neural network. What I discovered was that my first month in Nairobi involved little quiet time. Work was needing to get done, friendships were waiting to be made, and cultures were available to be experienced. Amidst those enjoyable things, I did not take time to just sit and think – I am learning this is something that I need in my life.

Now, I do not have some deep philosophical soul (you will not find a statue of The Thinker in my house). Rather, I see myself more as a thoughtful leopard sitting in a tree (see above). Like the leopard, I enjoy observing situations. Observing, then processing events on my own time, is helpful for me to understand myself and my surroundings. (Unlike the leopard, I do not have a dozen tourists crowding around me to take a picture from a safe distance away but I am sure the imagery is not lost on you.)

For me, intellectual processing can take minutes or hours or days but it is always a worthwhile venture into my own head space. It can happen sitting in the car (like the trip back to Nairobi), while eating lunch, or while trying to fall asleep at night. Whenever it eventually takes place, I find room for personal growth. The hard part was realizing I needed to commit my mental capacity to this reflection.

Currently, this internship is giving me many things to think about. Food systems takes up a large amount of thought space, for one, but I am also reflecting on how little I know of the world. People here, whether they are locals or fellow interns from around the globe, come from different life experiences. Their approaches to life and the future are encouraging and different. Frankly, my future is really up in the air right now. (It is terrifying and exhilarating how true that last sentence is.) I will continue to process what I learn and experience and try to observe my own life unfolding. Going-with-the-flow is how I got here so I will try to ride this “flow” as long as I can.

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