Yes, I’m moving to Swaziland!

Some of you know this, but to the rest of you: I am moving to Swaziland as a community health worker with the Peace Corps! Departure is approaching soon (Monday, the 13th), and packing is in full swing.

Many of you know how much I love to travel and learn from the world. Those of you who have known me in Utah know how much traveling to Ghana to lead a research project as part of my Master of Public Health degree changed my outlook on life. Everywhere I have traveled to and lived has helped make me who I am today, and my travels in the summer of 2014 to Ghana and Kenya opened my eyes to a whole different world.

I had seen rural, underserved parts of the United States before (think the Navajo reservation in southern Utah, where people drink contaminated water on a daily basis) that moved me enough to know that I wanted to do something about their water. I wrote about my first time on the reservation for my application to the public health program at the University of Utah and that visit has stayed with me.

The Mittens

The Mittens, Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation

 

Flash forward another two years and I am leading a study of the storage and disposal of poisons in central Ghana, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like a journalist again. I knew that working in a rural community to help the community members help themselves with community-based participatory research was how I wanted to spend my life. Throw in the love I received from the people I worked with and a handful of incredible elephant experiences, and I was hooked.

Ashaka, my first adopted elephant orphan

Ashaka, my first adopted elephant orphan

As an "obroni" or "white person," I was a magnet for children anywhere I went.

As an “obroni” or “white person,” I was a magnet for children anywhere I went.

Returning to both Ghana and Kenya again the next year where I spent a week testing water and then traveled to a Maasai village where I discussed the benefits of hand washing and a latrine to the family I was staying with, I knew I had found my element.

All dressed up with my Maasai family

All dressed up with my Maasai family

After finishing my degree and half-heartedly applying for a few office jobs in Salt Lake City, I knew I needed to seriously apply to the Peace Corps. I was offered a position as a community health worker in Swaziland in September, but I was not sure that I would pass medical clearance. I spent December through May checking off the Peace Corp’s never-ending list of medical tasks. Departure was finally real when I received notification from my doctor’s office that my last lab was excellent.

I have spent the last three weeks wrapping up my life in Utah and preparing for 27 months in Swaziland. I will update here as often as internet access permits in Swaziland, and expect a few more posts before I depart. Check out the tabs above for more information on Swaziland and mail, and I will post again this week with answers to the most common questions I have been receiving. If you have any questions, please post below.

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