Chidaona maso mtima suiwala

My flight is booked! To summarize, academic progress will be clunking it’s way back to Malawi this summer to either a) work on a project in rural Mchinji with Texas A&M professor (and mentor supreme) Kim Yi Dionne or b) investigate the phenomenon of cross-border informal migration from Zambia to Malawi for the purposes of accessing healthcare services in Malawi (contingent upon a grant that I am waiting to hear back about.

The title of this post sums it up: What the eye saw the heart never forgets. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to visit the people and places that I very reluctantly left behind last summer. There are just a few hurdles in between hear and my fond reunion with a place that has embedded itself in my heart.

1) School. Not exactly a “hurdle” as it is my current primary objective but I would be silly to ignore the enormous amount of work that lies ahead in the next few months. 3 short papers and presentations, 3 long end-of-term papers, and the untold joys of 75x 10pg undergraduate papers that I have the good fortune to be grading. Oh, did I forget to mention that the final exam for the class I am TAing is on April 21st. That leaves me a solid 5 days to pack, grade, and prepare myself for a 90 day stint in Malawi and 15 day cool down in Amsterdam and Germany. Okay… that last part kind of makes all this complaining seem a bit pointless.

Truth be told I am deeply passionate about school and am actually looking forward to the academic freedom permitted during final-paper season. Yay grad school!

2) Language Barrier. Sitting at “my” desk in Liwonde last year, Dr. Monica Grant (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison) told me that chances are I wouldn’t start learning Chichewa agian until a few weeks before I returned to Malawi. Boy was she ever right.

So here I am, 1 month and 22 days before YVR –> LLW, with an even more paltry grasp of the language than when I left Liwonde in August 2010 (hard to believe for those hardy souls who tried to drill basic phrases into my stubborn mind over my 3 month stay). Time to dust off my e-copy of “Tiyeni” and get cracking.

My last day in Malawi - 2010

So this is where Academic Progress will take flight. I will try to write weekly blogs about everything that goes into a trip like this (planning and execution) in the hopes that it will help out some other like-minded soul on the verge of a major leap into the unknown.

I’ll tell you this right now – this time I am going to remember to bring more than one pair of pants. In the words of my 13 year old self: “well duh!”


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