The search for the perfect luggage

So it occurred to me today as I was perusing REI’s website for a backpack for my trip, that I have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m gettin myself into by going to Sri Lanka for 2 months to teach children.

Like none. This isn’t one of those “Kelly’s being modest and is completely prepared to have a 180 shift in her way of life” moments. This entire thing is hitting me, and forcing me to realize that I am scared shitless, and have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.

I’m teaching. Children. In a more or less developing country. About computers.

Up until today whimsical ideas of teaching well behaved children who barely speak english the greatness that is MS Paint and how to type flooded my mind. But then I was reading the latest newsletter from the group that is currently there doing IT work and it’s not all sunshine and MS Paint. Apparently I’ll also be teaching adults, things like Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Which is fine and well, since I’m not an idiot when it comes to those programs but it was a curveball I wasn’t expecting.

And realization hits that this entire experience is going to be one big friggin curveball. I really can’t expect anything because what the hell should I expect? I know no Sri Lankans, the best I can say is I know a handful of people from India, but really they’re Indian by ethnicity only and I don’t even thing any of them have ever BEEN to India, let alone Sri Lanka off its southern coast.

And questions running the gamut from the practical to the ludicrous swirl in my head. Would it be more practical to bring pads or tampons? Should I take the malaria pills or just hope on a wing and a prayer that I don’t get it? What about the water issue, should I bring water tablets or do I think I’ll be diligent and constantly remember that all of it has to be boiled/cleaned/sanitized before it’s drinkable? What about packing? How much is too much, but what is too little? What should I even bring?

And sure there’s a list, and a whole helpful mini notebook full of all these answers – well not the pads/tampons one, but over all these questions are addressed in the predeparture booklet. But it’s not enough, because I’ve always been this gypsy planner who loves planning but hates sticking to plans. I like knowing what to do and then more often than not taking an alternate route.

It’s what makes me both petrified of change and able to embrace it willingly.

But along with the fear and apprehension towards taking a step like this also comes the calm and the peace in knowing that I am doing the right thing. I am doing something that I have been dreaming of doing for years, of taking that step. Of not letting that fear, or the worry from family and friends consume me and override the sense of urgency I have to spread my wings after 25 years and find my own footing. It’s a sense of freedom in knowing nothing can be expected, a break in the monotony of every day life if only temporarily.

And with as scared and bewildered I am at times over this choice I’ve made, there is just as much if not more hope that I have that I can get through this that I can really begin to make a difference in the world, that this entire experience will help me to grow as a daughter, a friend, and as an overall person in the world.

Now if I could just find a backpack to carry through it…

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