By Corinne Marcoux
I was lying down in bed before departure but my thoughts couldn’t lay down to rest. They were fighting over the precious three hours of sleep that separated me from day 1.
Excitement, nervousness, happiness, uncertainty, name it! Thoughts were flying like little butterflies in my belly. I was thinking about luggage details I needed to remember for the next day. I was thinking back about the meeting we had the previous weekend at Bishop’s on curriculum development and trying to internalize what I learned about starting from universal concepts. I felt very nervous but couldn’t really point out why (now I know it had something to do with the unknown and the pressure I would put on myself). In the end, I tried to focus my thoughts on how incredible it was that my dream of going to Africa was about to come true…
The alarm clock rang at 3 am, and I woke up in a quite bad mood. It seemed like all the thoughts I fell asleep with just grew over night, and the smallest things irritated me in an exaggerated way. The positive side about this mood issue is that it forced me to deal with an uncomfortable feeling: on the way to the airport, I consciously reminded myself that irritability was my natural reaction to high stress, and since I preferred being excited and enthusiastic, I changed my mood! I hope that this specific moment will help me during my time in Malawi. Please remind me of this if I don’t!
The plane journey—which lasted for a good 24 hours in total—went well. We went from Montreal to Toronto to Adis Ababa (Ethiopia) to Lilongwe (Malawi). Already, it was different from what I was used to. The plane to Adis Ababa was crowded. The sounds were foreign to me. The landscapes differed from everything else I have ever seen before—they were spectacular!
We then took the bus to Makupo, the village that is hosting us. We were welcomed with screams of joy from the children, and singing and dancing from the women…and we hadn’t even gotten off the bus yet! The people of Makupo are very welcoming and generous and patient with our very clumsy Chichewa (the local language), which I totally forgot when I was in front of them. They really want us to make Makupo our home, and it is working so far.
That night, I slept so well, protected under my net, catching up for the last three days, and appreciating how all this experience is just above imagination.
Tionana bwino! (“See you later” in Chichewa)