It’s been a little over two and a half weeks since my feet have last touched Ugandan soil and since that time I have been readjusting to life back in the States. When people ask me how it has been so far in the transition back home, I typically respond that it has been easier than expected. In some ways I feel guilty for so seamlessly assimilating back into the American culture as if that somehow invalidates my four months of learning and living in Uganda. Yet, I know that my time in Uganda this semester was invaluable and I pray that the lessons I learned continue to permeate my “new normal” – whatever that may entail.
Some of the lessons that I hope to hold to include professional, personal, and spiritual learning. I’ve gathered innumerable transferable skills from my social work internship such as practicing and gaining confidence in my engagement and assessment skills with clients, even despite language and cultural barriers. I’ve learned how to adapt and be flexible when working with limited resources and fluid schedules. I had a chance to practice using my professional voice while also maintaining cultural humility.
Personally, I have learned how important and freeing it is to admit to the struggles and challenges that I am facing. I’ve been able to name my strengths and identify where I still have room for growth. I’ve been showered with hospitality and love and challenged to reflect the same lifestyle.
Through it all, I have been continually reminded and comforted by the kind presence of my omnipresent God. I’ve struggled with the reality of injustice and pain and yet the possibility to still hope. I have been challenged to not be so concerned with what I want to be, but who I want to be and how God wants me to reflect his love.
As I have left one home and return to another, I continue the search of a new place where I hope to begin my career as a social worker. Yet, no matter where I may end up or what job title I may hold, my prayer (borrowed from St. Francis) remains the same:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is sadness, joy;
Where there is darkness, light.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
Not so much to be understood as to understand;
Not so much to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
// webele nyo, Uganda