The past two months I went AWOL on this space.
That’s because the science things took me away. I should have been kind to pop by and tell you about it.
I tried though to share a few things on facebook but because sometimes I get completely immersed in the now moments, I am not always good at living life and talking about it at the same time.
I blame it on my parents; that thing they used to say to encourage savoring “child which mouth do you use to talk and which one do you use to speak” is sometimes the way I live.
Anyway I was given an opportunity to do two awesome things I love to do,
to learn until my head was spinning
and to travel until my heart was busting at seams with joy.
These two things are among the things; which if my days and years were completely open I would spend my life doing.
Alongside 32 participants from 31 countries I attended two months associate programme offered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague and other parts of the world.
I should mention OPCW won a nobel peace prize in 2013 and to many of us this was the closest we have been to a nobel price (tears).
In this blurry picture me and the OPCW Director-General are standing in front of the treasured nobel prize(if you look closely you might see it)- an indication of OPCW’s hard work and a summation of the long journey they took as an organization towards getting rid of chemical weapons so this world becomes a peaceful and safe place.
You can’t remain unchanged in an organization that makes a staggering difference in the world; in some way you are inspired to do your part.
(Side long note; you might want to read a letter the 5th graders students in Spain wrote to OPCW just to appreciate the impact they are making here.)
And yes OPCW’s journey is worth every applause, chemical weapons can mess up our world, destroy our hope, change the sacred grounds we stand on. Innocent children are affected. It is organizations like these that deserve a lot of attention and deserve more voices.
Our being there was to train us so we can be those voices too and in some way become ambassadors and change the script of chemical safety and management.
I am grateful to have had a chance to become part of something bigger than myself.
Besides learning, along the way we had a chance to visit heartwarming and breathtaking places, a chance to admire the world’s beautiful architect and try the world exotic tastes.
So we are loaded with a lifetime of stories.
We also made incredible friends; earth shakers and movers who are changing the experiences of their countries through research.
We exchanged ideas and shared our diverse cultures; shook up ignorance and stereotypes especially the ones we often hold about countries; funny how when we hear Iraq all we often think of is Sadam Hussein; and when we hear Africa we think wild animals and trees,
To be among others is to learn there is always much more to a country.
We created home for each other, we crowded at small tables shared meals and celebrated birthdays over apple pies and cheap chicken wings from Coop, took both awesome and terrible pictures .
We learned a lot about each other, how good coffee can make or break someone’s day and how not eating rice can mess up someone’s life.
Sometimes we went ‘geeky’ over the food in our plates; (food fraud, effects of pesticides, nutritional content, lycopene and high fibres which prevent constipation, I still don’t know why we should be talking about some topics like constipation while eating.).
Sometimes we found ourselves consoling our brothers and sisters who were aggrieved by their lack of packing and cooking skills (note of gratitude to spouses, friends and families who take care of things we can’t take of-we were so lost without you).
We were kind to listen to each other ‘stories, of travel, of pain and joy.
The “me too moments” connected us.
We became one big family.
Now when we hear stories about Kenya elections or the mourning celebrations of the late of King of Thailand these are no longer just stories where we just feel sorry; it does feel different because these are stories about places where my friends reside.
It turns out that when we open our hearts we can connect well to those different from ourselves. We expand our understanding of life and become more receptive to others.
I think what made us all proud of ourselves is that an opportunity came and we said yes to it, we said yes to the chance to learn and expand ourselves.
Yes there were questions, preparations (and worries even) we had face before saying yes, ranging from family to work and to personal issues.
How will I cope when my English is not so good?
Is this really meant for me?
Who will cover for my lectures when I am gone?
Will my work suffer?
Will my kids cope when I am not away?
Will my kids be safe when they cross the road?
How old are the participants I am going to meet, will I fit in?
Will I find time to shop? (and this is an authentic worry too for others)
I don’t think any of reached enough answers to take away our worries but in the end though we considered the courageous thing, we said yes.
We now carry many experiences, the big and little experiences, the meaningful ones and the ones that may seem meaningless at the moment, we carry with us experiences that shook us up, that annoyed us and that excited us. But we gained remarkable insight in the process and we know all experiences we a platform of growth.
We also know we will use some in the now and some experiences will stay in our storage tank, then someday we will draw something from them.
What if you said yes too? Yes to learning, yes to the important things in your life, yes to the things you may not know will serve you and just throw caution to the wind, yes to travelling, yes to the way God is directing your life?