Ever since I accepted my offer to go to Zambia for a year, I have received a lot questions. Some include:
- Who are you going with? (The Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Young Adult Volunteers program. You can find out more about the program and the Zambia site here!)
- Are you scared? (terrified, actually)
- Did you pick Zambia? (I’d prefer to say Zambia picked me)
- What will you be doing? (Not sure yet, but I can’t wait to find out!)
These questions make sense to ask and are, frankly, very easy to answer. But I have received one question that is not easy to answer:
Why are you doing this?
My gut reaction is to answer with a smile and scream enthusiastically “why not?” I want people to view me as adventurous, fearless, and capable. I want people to view my decision to live in Zambia for a year to be admirable if not a little crazy. I don’t want people to question my sanity or the validity of my decision. But sometimes, when asked this question, I have to pause.
Why am I doing this?
Why am I taking a year out of my life to do work I will not be paid for? Why am I committing myself to an experience that might be difficult and scary? Why am I going to spend a year contemplating my faith when I have struggled with my faith and my connection with the church for years? Why do I think I’m capable of transforming lives and being a vessel for change? What right do I have to this experience? All of these questions have made me question my gut reaction to the question “why are you doing this?”
After months of reflection, I now know my answer to this question.
During my senior year of college, I considered countless post grad options from fellowships to jobs to unpaid internships. I wallowed in self-doubt, trying to figure out what would be the “practical thing” for me to do. But I never asked myself what I wanted or what would make me happy. Until I received a site offer to go to Zambia from the YAV program.
When I received my offer, I definitely had doubts. There was a pit in my stomach that I tried to ignore. Despite the anxiety, fear, and possible regret plaguing my mind, there was one undeniable truth. This experience would make me happy. If I didn’t accept the offer, then I would be opting out of a dream that I’ve had since high school.
During my YAV year, I want to dedicate my life to others, learn about a culture different from my own, and not focus on myself and my needs but rather the needs of the community I will be serving. Ultimately, I dream of doing international development work as a career and my YAV year will be the beginning of that dream. I’m aware there will be moments of self-doubt. I will struggle. But I’ve decided that the decision to go to Zambia is not a stupid risk but a worthy risk. This worthy risk is what is going to make me happy.