Our last hours at Yale were a haze of emotions and events. Closing Dinner Party, crying, scrambling, packing, dancing, re-crying, delirium.
Sunday June 12th was our last day of training. We had our final Still Harbor session and final reflections before spending a 5 hour break repacking or buying our last minute toiletries or electronics. For me specifically, I had to pack one of my 5 bags completely before dinner in order to give it to my incredible co-fellow, Lute, who agreed to check it for me in an effort to creatively problem solve my over-packing struggle. I had to hurry all this packing to be prepared for our last fancy event and dinner.
6pm: We had our group GHC photo in the beautiful (by highly allergenic) Yale grass in the best outfits we could pull together given the crazy day of packing and days of traveling ahead.
7pm-10pm: We found ourselves at the Omni Hotel in New Haven having a beautiful farewell dinner inclusive of delicious non-dining hall food, an amazing slideshow capturing our days of training, and a highly emotional candle lighting ceremony where we lit each others candles and expressed why we loved or were inspired by each other. I was honored to have been chosen amongst the first group by Barbara Bush who really expressed sincere interest in my work and gratitude for me joining the GHC family. I awkwardly became emotional really quick to the point where I was like hysterical by the time I was going to light Reena’s candle (whose literally been like my twin-aka little, young and brown- sister throughout training and even before we met!)
11pm-3:30am: As our teary, emotion-felt session faded, we moved into the bar/dancing part of the evening. Presumably, at this point, your bags were supposed to be almost packed and to fight the inevitable jet-lag that lay ahead, you were planning to party all night and night sleep until you got on the plane. I tried to go with this plan as Reena and I went out with everyone, but found ourselves becoming zombies on the dance floor (mainly me. Reena’s like a profesh dancer!). Of course this meant that we needed some New Haven Pizza at 1am to keep us awake. After pizza, I had to subscribe to the delirium, and take a 45 minute cat nap before showering.
4am-6:30am: We loaded the busses in New Haven with our positive energy packets written by our peers and my choo-choo train of luggage. A couple of hours later we woke up from attempted bus sleep to find ourselves at JFK; it was about to get real. My brain was flooded to internal questions:
How much will my luggage cost?
Will they let me bring this as a carryon?
Is my luggage even close to the right weight?
The anticipation was killing me. But I was trying to strategize.
7am-8am: Our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 11am; so we had to wait. Sitting in line with all of our luggage was a fun bonding experience as we were in line with GHC Uganda fellows (aka the UCrew). We shuffled our order so that those of us that anticipated that we would be overweight (aka me…always) would go first so that others could potentially help us if needed which was AWESOME. Finally, it was time to check in.
8:30am-11am: 30 minutes of people ahead of me went and finally it was my turn. THANKFULLY, I had the best checker of all time who helped me go through with the minimum costs possible (aka FO FREE). PRAISE! Security was kind of intense, especially since Reena got stopped twice in a “random” search or a “let’s stop the brown girl but we aren’t racist” search, but I digress. All of ZamFam and UCrew were on the same flight and we all made it safely to the terminal. After some last calls home and some good-ol American McDonalds, it was time to board the plane…and DAMN! I had never flown Emirates before and it was seriously majestic. Good food, USB plugs, toothbrushes galore and there were STAIRS ON OUR PLANE! It was the freaking Titanic of the sky and even some of our GHC peers got upgraded to business class and got to fly upstairs!
12.5 hours later, we found ourselves in Dubai. With a short layover, we were practically sprinting across the biggest airport I have ever seen in what felt like the hottest temperatures ever. The air was hot, the water was hot, EVERYTHING was hot. Yet somehow we sweatily made our way to another, smaller Emirates 7 hour flight to Lusaka. Since the first flight was so entertaining, it was hard to sleep; therefore on the second one, we literally all were paralyzed by fatigue. Only, barely opening our eyes for food, we all slept hard.
Who knows what time it was by now, but we woke up in Lusaka, which obviously called for a group photo. The visa situation was more challenging for some of us then others, but after about an hour we FINALLY MADE IT!
But where were we going and who was taking us there?
Representatives from our host organization, so for me the Society for Family Health, came and picked us up from the Lusaka airport and brought us to our current transitional housing site. Fighting jet lag, we all went to dinner with Eric which transitioned nicely to a long night’s slumber and first night in Lusaka.
And that’s what I call a 48 hour time warp.