I can’t believe we’re finally on our way to Ethiopia! The past week has been a whirlwind of finals, some gymnastics practice, graduation ceremonies and celebrations and of course preparing and packing for the trip. Luckily, I started to pack early (unlike some of the other student athletes haha) so that I had time to attend numerous graduation celebrations over the past few days and say goodbyes.
I’ve developed a lot of special friendships here at OSU so some of the goodbyes were especially hard to make as friends graduate and move on to bright futures. Four years really has flown by and I’m looking forward to completing my final year of eligibility next year.
A few of our team members are flying out after us because the graduation date was moved a day later to accommodate guest speaker Michelle Obama. We’ll be traveling west while they’ll fly east on Tuesday. You know a place is far, far away when you can travel either way around the globe to get there.
All the questions about our trip from friends, family and even strangers have really built my excitement and anticipation as our departure day arrived. For example, after picking up the team members in Corvallis today we made a morning stop at Starbucks where the friendly barista asked, “Any exciting plans for today?” I quickly replied, “Yes! We’re leaving town for Ethiopia!”
It’s definitely not everyday you can say that to someone. I’ve been reminded to take tons of pictures so I will be making that a priority and try to post some of them regularly with this blog or else once I return home.
We’re flying out of Seattle all the way to Dubai. That’s a 14 hour flight! I’ve never been a on a flight longer than 5 hours so that will be the first of many completely new experiences on this trip. I’m trying to figure out the best way to adjust to the time change whether that means staying up during the flight or trying to sleep.
I’ve brought ‘Cutting for Stone’ a national bestseller set in the capital of Ethiopia, along with some magazines and my iPod to pass the time. The novel is required reading for the one credit international eirtxperience summer class we’re enrolled in but I think it’ll be a perfect read for the trip. I’ve been advised to make sure I get up to stretch at least every couple of hours. I’ll make sure I do that because 14 hours is certainly a long time. Once we arrive in Dubai we’re spending the night in a hotel and then getting back on a plane to fly into Addis Ababa. From there it’s a two hour drive south to arrive in Silte, Ethiopia where we will be building the houses and spending the majority of trip.
The radio was on in the van as we drove up to Seattle and just as we exited the freeway for the Seattle airport the song ‘Africa’ by Toto came on. We all freaked out a little bit and decided it couldn’t have been just a coincidence. I think it’s a sign this trip will be amazing and potentially life changing. We’re about to board the plane so there’s absolutely no turning back now.