To understand the path that led me to this trip,
there are a couple of dates are important to note:
1. October 9th, 2015
2. February 16th, 2016
3. March 9th, 2016
4. March 14th-15th, 2016
5. April 15th, 2016
Brace yourselves y'all. I promise you, this was not how you thought this story would begin.
October 9th: This was the day I found out I had cancer... Yes, it was hard. Yes, it sucked. Yes, I was sad. Blah blah. However, the real reason this day played a pivotal role on me going on this trip was because this was the day I realized my life, as I had known it, would radically change and that all the plans I had made--to graduate that Spring, to study abroad that winter, to apply to doctoral programs in December--all those things were now out of my control, out of my reach, even. I realized my life was no longer going to go how I had planned it and for the first time in my adult life, I had to live without a plan.
February 16th: (Yes, the story does move on to a happier place.) This was the day I found out I was officially cancer-free! At this point, I had picked up a couple of classes on campus again, hoping to restore some sort of order to my life again. But, it wasn't until I got these news that I felt that I was truly able to dream again. That I was able to hope again. And, most importantly, in the life of a devout perfectionist, I was able to plan again. First thing on my list: Study abroad.
March 9th: This was the day I emailed the beloved professor and my fearless leader for the first time, inquiring about the trip and hoping to meet with her to further discuss the details of the trip. She emailed promptly the next day, (amazingly so, since she just had her wisdom teeth removed!) and we made an appointment for the next week!
(Check out that e-mail etiquette, though.)
March 14th-15th: The 14th was the day she and I formally met. I say formally because, truth be told, we had run in the same circles since my first semester at John Jay.
1. She put together an event at John Jay and after her students failed to go, I randomly signed up for the event. It was amazing!
2. She became a professor for the Prison-to-College Pipeline the year after
I participated in 2013-14.
3. She was a professor for Adelante, a program the office I worked for, Student Academic Success Programs, had started and ran. My best friend served as a mentor in her class!
Anywho, we met and she was everything you could ever hope for in a professor. I left that meeting knowing for sure, Tanzania was the trip for me. The next day was my last chemotherapy treatment. That was cool, too.
April 15th: One week after the application was due (not on purpose), I submitted my application to the Study Abroad office, who then sent the application to Professor Madrazo, who I then met with hours later, where I was officially accepted as a member of this trip. All in the same day.
Alright, y'all. I know that was long-winded, and I apologize. But, context is important.
But, now, we are moving on to the good stuff, the actual trip.
Please, click on the Shangaa: Shock and Awe tab to follow my journey across the world.