When Nick Minas called me on a rainy Seattle morning I almost hung up. I thought he was calling about my expired credit card. I was tired of thinking about that expired card.
But then I heard the words "congratulations," and "finalist." I was truly puzzled, until I was finally able to form a coherent thought that did not figure my credit card into the whole schema. The contest! I was a finalist in the Win a Trip with Nick Kristof contest!
I ran around the apartment in circles and mouthed "I am a finalist!!!" to Rachel. She shot me a look that said both "congratulations" and "have some game!" Whatever.
I can't really tell you what happened for the subsequent hours because I was too excited to take notes. But what I can tell you is that I spent the following days religiously watching the Win a Trip site on the NY Times and on Kristof's MySpace page. I spent a week in total diarrhea-provoking anxiety, wondering if I would be THE ONE to go on a reporting journey to Africa with Nick Kristof.
On the eighth day, god created dissapointment. I learned I was not THE winner, but I was still special and all that jazz, and I was the winner of a $100 gift certificate to the NY Times store (which I have yet to receive).
I moped around a bit, but I didn't cry I'll have you know. I emailed friends and family to say I was not the one. I slumped in my chair at work and tried to settle back in to my anonymous life as student, friend, spouse, and dutiful reader of college essays. I tried not to think of what could have been. I tried to move on to the next dream (my mother's advice).
But then I realized that if I wanted to go to Africa so damned badly I should go. I mulled it over. I pleaded with Rachel, more than once, so she'd know I wasn't just on the rebound from the Kristof contest. She kindly agreed to support my efforts wholeheartedly.
So, I am going to Africa because who needs a Pulitzer prize winning journalist? Not me!
I leave on Tuesday June 12th, for the Pearl of Africa - Uganda. There, I'll work with an RN/PhD and her niece on a community assessment project in the Mukono District of Uganda. I'll be staying at Noah's Ark orphanage, home to 75 children who landed there for a variety of reasons. (www.nacmu.org) NACMU is hoping to establish a medical clinic and birth attendant program for the village families. Our work there will help to lay the groundwork for that project.
After the Win a Trip contest I realized that I had a captive audience who read my essay and were interested in what I had to say. So I'm gonna say it and I'm gonna say it here, on my brand new cleverly titled (thanks, Brian) blog.
For more about Uganda, stay tuned.