Africa, that is. (Points if you got the somewhat altered Toto reference in the title!) Specifically Zimbabwe. Or Mozambique. Or Malawi. Or Kenya. Or some combination of these.
While my work focuses on international women's health, I haven't had the opportunity to travel outside the US since starting the project last January. I wouldn't consider myself that well-traveled anyway. I spent a semester studying in Italy and hit as many European highlights as I could, taking dirty Italian overnight trains to Paris, staying at sketchy hostels in Madrid and Barcelona, and toting a Jansport backpack all the way. I've been to Costa Rica on a legit mission type trip, and the Bahamas and St. Lucia for vacation. So really, Costa Rica is the only place I got any sense of the Global South, and among developing countries, it's pretty stable and relatively economically sound.
Since starting work on international health, I've felt a growing urgency to see more of the world, not as a tourist (although travel for pleasure is awesome) but to connect with grassroots health advocacy. It's not just a way to build some credibility in the work that I do, but also for me to see with my own eyes what the situation is like for folks on the ground, hear the stories, and work together with them as allies. And now, it's really going to happen!
I have two awesome opportunities, and I need to pick one and soon. Like, by the end of the week. Yikes!
The first is a 3-week trip to Zimbabwe, working on a mission team and doing some construction at a hospital. It's a little on the long side, and while I think it'd be personally enriching, I'm not sure it's the best fit for my work. I really want to talk with people one-on-one, and I think I'd be more in the background. On the flip side, it's in August which is a great time to travel since Congress is out of session.
The second would be a shorter, possibly two-country trip to Malawi and Mozambique. In Malawi, I'd get to visit some AIDS projects and in Mozambique, I'd be attending a multi-country conference on domestic violence. And, it would be right before some big trips I have in the US, which isn't great timing but it would also build my credibility before I go stand in front of groups, telling them why they should support international health efforts.
I've got a lot to think about. But whichever I choose, it's going to be an amazing experience!