Realizing that my trip is only just over a month away, I figured I should get this blog established so that you can keep up with me and my travels while I am gone! It’s crazy to think that I have been planning for this for almost a year, and soon enough I won’t have anything left to plan for, just to go! Being in the moment and truly allowing the experience to lead me where I need to go is going to be one of the most difficult challenges. Preparing for this trip, mentally and emotionally, has been (and continues to be) a roller coaster, but I have learned a lot along the way.
In LEAD 405 (Leadership in Practice) at K-State this semester we have explored how to deal with adaptive challenges. These are challenges that do not have clear problems or clear solutions and that require learning and time to tackle. These are just a few key points that we have learned this year, hopefully to help you get a glimpse of how I am mentally preparing for the challenges I will face: *side note: If you want to learn more about what these look like feel free to talk to me! But for the sake of purpose of this blog I will not go deeply into them on here 🙂
- Diagnose Situation
- Understanding the Process Challenges
- Explore Tough Interpretations
- Test Multiple Interpretations and Points of View
- Manage Self
- Know Your Strengths, Vulnerabilities, and Triggers
- Get Used to Uncertainty and Conflict
- Experiment Beyond Your Comfort Zone
- Energize Others
- Start Where They Are
- Inspire a Collective Purpose
- Work Across Factions
- Intervene Skillfully
- Make Conscious Choices
- Speak From the Heart
- Give the Work Back
- Hold to Purpose
It is through these and other key leadership principles that I have been able to be mentally prepared for the experiences I will encounter abroad. One of my biggest fears, especially since I will be working in an orphanage, was the potential of doing more harm than good simply through my actions and mindset of being a volunteer that was there to help these people that are “less fortunate” than myself. That mindset alone is detrimental to the relationships I have not yet even starting building with the people of Ghana yet. Assuming that another person is less than you, and needs fixed is alone not respecting their “human-ness” and outright denying that they are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. Going into this situation prepared to form relationships with not only the children but the staff and the community, through mutual learning, will help with this tremendously. Relationships are equally give and take, they are not to assume that one is more than another in anyway, simply that we are equal and that I can learn from your story just as much as you can learn from my story. Constantly striving to ensure that I am not looking down on others simply because I am volunteering for them or because I am in Africa, because our society seems to emphasize the poverty in Africa above all others, is going to be hard at times, but it will make my experience all that much better, even when I know that I likely won’t come home feeling like I did great work to make the “world a better place.” This ties in to why I chose to name this log of my travels Beyond Borders rather than a title more personal such as Kayla’s Notebook or something. Its a constant reminder to me and to you, that borders create boundaries between humanity, only if you let them. I want to look past those boundaries and see all the people I encounter not as “them” vs. “us” but simply as people, stumbling their way through life just like you and I.
Thanks for following my ramblings as I empty my mind on how I am feeling at this point 46 days out!