The adventure begins…
I’M GOING TO BOTSWANA I’M GOING TO BOTSWANA I’M GOING TO BOTSWANA.
Yep, that is right. Lil ol’ me is going on the adventure of a life time for four months. Four whole months! Not the usual one or two week holiday (or most recently less than one day) break between exams and co-op or co-op and exams, but four whole months. I found out a while ago and I haven’t been able to think of anything since.
My name is Alex Joyce and I am a third year Systems Design Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. I am a passionate person with special interest in international development issues and the environment. I believe (most days) that one person can change the world. I am involved with Engineers Without Borders on campus, which has taught me to think critically about international development issues, as well as make some difference here in Canada.
I am volunteering for the Predator Conservation Trust in Maun, Botswana through a Canadian program called Students Without Borders. I will be helping with the development of a social development program called Coaching for Conservation, which uses soccer as a way to engage youth and teach them healthy core values like respect for self and respect for the environment. I am not sure what to expect, but I am sure it will be a blast. The neat thing I think is that I will actually be returning to Botswana. I was very fortunate to travel there in Grade 12 with a bunch of students and do a three week volunteer trip. That trip had a real impact on my life, changed my focus, gave me direction and emotionally moved me to my very core. I can definitely say that my volunteer services back in 2006 didn’t really have much impact – we were high school students with few skills and not a very good understanding of the people (called Motswana) or culture of Botswana. I came back feeling both helpless and motivated. Could one person make a difference? I wrote myself a letter while I was there and here is a excerpt from it:
“Remember the tears you cried in Botswana. You cried because statistically one in three of the children that were laughing and waving with you had HIV/AIDs. You cried because you were treated as a goddess when you felt personally responsible for the hardships they face everyday. You cried about the assumption that you made that your life was better than theirs. You cried because you felt that you couldn’t make a difference. Remind yourself that each time you tell someone else about the experience it is making a difference, battling issues at home in Canada is making a difference. Keep making a difference. Try to imagine the emotion you felt that night and remember the drive that you had, wanting to, needing to make a difference. Come back to this continent and make a difference. The country and continent is magical. It envelops you. Come back and learn what they need to improve their lives, not what YOU think would improve their life, but listen to what they need.”
Here I am. Going back. Trying to spend enough time there to figure out what they need and how I can apply my skills that I have gained to really really help them, if I can. I look forward to sharing with you my adventures and experiences.