Do you ever look back and see how much has changed? Today, July 17, 2014 marks my month-iversary in Uganda. Yesterday, Rachel (an intern for HALO) was nice enough to come with me to Mengo to meet Barbara and Sandra, get some pictures, and have some insightful conversations. Once we arrived at the workshop I introduced Rachel and we hit the ground running with talks about favorite music (Rachel and Sandra bonded over Beyonce), aspirations, hobbies, school, and work.
I am reminded every day how strong Barbara and Sandra are. While Rachel and Barbara were having a one-on-one talk I asked Sandra if it was hard to talk about her past. “Why would it be hard Sarah? I know that it is the past and I am not that person anymore”. Her statement was so unbelievably insightful and really puts the past into perspective. The past is part of the story, but it doesn’t always determine how your future will turn out.
I wish that people reading this could meet these young ladies in person. They have dreams. They are driven. They are creative. They are full of joy. They always bring a smile to my face. They have found a way to use their past as a reminder that they are not those people anymore. They are real. They take the good with the bad. The have provided me with a new way to reflect on my past. For my month-iversary I have thought about my impressions on day 1 in Uganda vs. today.
I let the girls know that I have been here a month and we all begun discussing first impressions.
Sandra explained that her first impression of Meg was that she was quiet and she didn’t talk at all at the very first meeting. She then stated that “Now, she talks and she is soft”. Soft is a way of saying that a person is kind, sweet, and caring.
After hearing about how Meg was viewed, I HAD to ask about myself. Sandra paused for a second, took a breath, and stated that she couldn’t tell a lie. Honestly, I was regretting asking this question. What were they going to say?
Sandra begins with, “At first I thought, she is hard and told Barbara, we will see how this goes. But, then we saw you again and I realized you are soft”.
Barbara then jumped in with an explanation on how my “hardness” is viewed. According to Barbara I am determined, and expect a lot out of the girls (both true). I am soft and know how to laugh. I make it clear to both the girls that there is a time to laugh and a time to work and I do both. Phfew- that wasn’t terrible. With my mini freak out over I could think it all over.
First impressions are good to hold onto, but the second, third, fifteenth, hundredth impressions are just as important. Being able to look back 1 month, 3 months, 1 year, 5 years and see all the changes helps to keep life in perspective. Looking back and seeing how much Barbara and Sandra have learned, how much I have learned, how many inspirational people we have met (fashion designers, HALO interns, screen printers, fabric importers, boda drivers, and the list goes on) that makes this month-iversary even more special.
So, happy month-iversary! Thanks for being part of the journey.