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A Growing Mind

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Olivia Viola

I love traveling. I want to travel to as many places as I can in my lifetime.  But I have come to realize, that my desire to travel has been selective. I wanted to go to all the nice places in the world, never to the outskirts, let alone to my own country. But today I have come to understand why tourists leave comfortable homes to camp in the woods.

Too much has changed in such a short time. In precisely two months and three weeks, I can confidently talk about mindset change. CorpsAfrica is big on mindset change. We had this intensive training about how mindset change is paramount in community development, and how to be a catalyst for mindset change in our respective communities. Little did I know mine was a mind in need of urgent change. My personal growth as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer? Beyond imaginable. I am not going to talk about how my integration has been excruciating, to say the least. Sorry to disappoint. Maybe next time, probably next time. I am going to tap a little into the concept of humility and how I fell face-front into it. How I have found myself needing validation from the ones the world has come to call “proletariats?”. But listen, this approval is not an illusion. It is indeed credited.

When I thought about going to my site, Mpalale, Dedza, my stomach turned upside down, every time. I wanted to be excited about the new experience and everything that came along with it but my fears overcrowded me. I developed a coping mechanism to try and get over my fears. A very terrible one I must say. I told myself, “This can’t be hard. You’ll be dealing with a community that is uneducated and illiterate, bet they’ll listen to every word you have to say”. An extremely shallow mindset. The kind of mindset that certainly needed change. Fear has a big shadow, and mine came in the form of negative coping methods, even in other situations. I would soon learn humility from these so-called ‘uneducated people’ who in so many ways have shown me just how significant they are. My community has rendered me speechless many times than I can count. They are rich in knowledge, dignity, discernment, and leadership in depths I can only admire. I have come to find out there’s so much more I can learn and it is not from a professor or a philosopher’s book. It is instead from modest human beings who have managed to find purpose in the smallest of things. My mindset has since transformed from the divided view of people; to the negative coping mechanisms and views that made me see the world on an unbalanced scale. I have a different perspective now, one I believe will take me a long way in life and I have CorpsAfrica to thank for that. There is no lesser or more, there is only diversity and there is beauty in diversity in its entity.

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