Leaving Liberia

When I wrote my last and only post in Liberia, the plan had been to follow with a series of reflections. Yet, between the dry African heat when I arrived and the constant rain showers when I left, I seem to have missed documenting an entire six months.

The silence was not intentional. Many times I tried to put pen to paper, only to realize moments later that I couldn’t. Even now, I still struggle to express the tangle of emotions. The essence of the human experience, revealed so delicately in brief moments of clarity, does not lend itself well to words.

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In sum, Liberia was a deep dive into humanity. It was there that I felt what it truly means to be human, to celebrate our aliveness through resilience and strength despite the most difficult circumstances and seemingly impossible odds. It’s where I was embraced by communities and friends who welcomed me with love and sincerity, regardless of the color of my skin or the briefness of our encounter. It’s where I learned more about the kind of person, development worker, and friend I wanted to be and the impact I needed to have on the world. It’s where I became sensitized, on a very visceral level, to what it means to be part of the have-nots and to the dynamics of power and privilege. I never knew it was possible to grow so much in only a few months’ time, nor will I ever be able to capture all the lessons illuminated.

Perhaps one of these days, we’ll unpack these insights over a cup of coffee, a beer, or a meal in some small corner of the world. We’ll discuss all the things that are problematic with development aid, the ubiquity of inequity and violations around the world, and ways to keep moving forward despite carrying such a heavy heart laden with emotion. We’ll make familiarity out of the unfamiliar by our shared company, as if no time had passed. Perhaps I’ll even write about it.

But, for now, I just need to breathe and be.

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One response to “Leaving Liberia

  1. Your writing is beautiful, Michelle! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been following you through photos, but as always it is wonderful to get a deeper glimpse into your experience through your words.

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