After Liberia

Janeen Drakes, 
2012 GHLI Fellow 

Almost a month after returning to New Haven from Liberia, I still find myself reflecting upon my time there. My stay in Liberia was a whirlwind of activities, emotions and experiences which were, at times, seemingly insignificant, confusing and conflicting. However, they were profound in the fact that they challenged me, my outlook and abilities, and my professional and personal aspirations.

Working in a setting with limited resources taught me to not only temper my expectations, but to also do the most with what I was given. I learned that simply observing and interacting with others can be as great of a learning experience as working continuously. Forming relationships with colleagues and strangers turned out to be eye opening and crucial for adapting to a new place and culture.

Most of all, being in Liberia confirmed my desire to work in developing countries. I have always included that goal among the numerous lists of things I would like to do in my career. After my summer in Liberia, I’m comfortable in my ability to return to a similar setting and to thrive. In this way, this past summer has been undeniably important for me on a personal and professional level.

Returning to school, work and the distractions of life in New Haven, it is a little easy to forget some of these lessons – but I try to find ways to stay connected to Liberia and the experiences I had there. I stay in contact with those colleagues and continue some of the work I started there as I explore ways to return. In these ways, I hope that I will be consistently reminded of my time spent in Liberia.

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