What does successful integration mean to you?

A couple of days ago a good friend of mine asked “What does successful integration this summer mean to you?”  For some volunteers this means waking up at 4:00 in the morning, helping on the farm and living like a farmer; for others, it means taking part in community activities; one thing that I hope is to be able to help around the farm and be seen as a member of the family instead of a guest.

Beyond helping with chores, I started thinking about what successful integration would mean outside of individual actions. Thinking about this I realized something that has been building a bit over the last week or two; successful integration for me will be to have a social life this summer.  I realized that for me to feel like I successfully integrated will not be to what degree I feel like I am living a ‘African life’ but instead living my life in Africa.

Before I realized this, I think I was looking at this summer as an experience somehow out of my life.  I perceived this summer as an experience that would probably greatly enrich my life, but not as a part of my life here in Canada. Here was the revelation for me; I would sometimes wonder if I could live in another country by myself, if I could make it through the summer without my support network.  I was segregating my life in Canada and my life in Africa and it was making the summer seem quite daunting. I now see the summer as the next chapter in my life as a whole.

On the whole I feel a lot more comfortable about going overseas this summer. I know at times it will be trying, frustrating, lonely but I also know that I will find a way to be happy, and make it feel like home for a short while.  I wouldn’t be able to do this without all the support I have received in the last few months.

Although this does not even start to cover all of the people who are important to me and have made this experience so worthwhile.  I want to send a huge shout out to all the Sandy’s, Hockin’s and McNeil’s for making me realize once again what an incredible family I have.  Thanks to Mom and Dad for being patient when the answer to “where are you going this summer?” is still “I don’t know.” Thanks to everyone at EWB Western for making leaving this summer, despite technically being President, way less nerve-wracking than it should be (you all rock my socks off!)  Brett, for smiling and being happy for me even though I know you don’t want me to leave this summer, thanks a million.

And to all of you who are reading this blog and have been a part of my life, thanks!

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Annette on March 29, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Amazing, I’m excited to keep up with your train of thought over the summer and see how your definition of integration changes. So powerful that you’ve already intergrated it “into your life” though, such an important mind-shift. Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply

    • Thanks Annette, I am definitely looking forward to many more conversations and also looking back at the end and seeing how many times my perspectives, etc shift over the next four months!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Cathy Sandy on March 30, 2010 at 12:41 am

    I love getting the updates. I feel like I know where you are in your journey and in how your thinking is evolving. Go girl and good luck. Love Gram

    Reply

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