Wednesday, June 6, 2007

In the 2 weeks Prior to Departure

Before my idea could blossom into reality, I had so much last minute work to do. I had done a lot of leg work to get funding and to flush out the goals and plans of my project, but I had to wait until the students actually doing the projects had finalized their plans to make my itinerary, purchase my plane tickets, and more. On top of that, finals week with 4 finals and 3 final projects did not bode well to preparing before the end of the semester.

So the semester ended and my summer began. First, I had to finalize my itinerary, I narrowed down more than 30 projects to 8 projects, 2 of which were dropped 2 days ago due to one project still not having an itinerary and another objecting to having photographs taken. This left me with projects in:

(1) New Delhi, India
(2) Nairobi, Kenya
(3) Kampala, Uganda
(4) Arusha, Tanzania
(5) Moshi, Tanzania
(6) Sichuan, China
(7) Beijing, China

Due to the way the flights worked out, it was cheaper for me (by $4000) to fly into Bangkok, Thailand for 24 hours on my way to China from Tanzania versus a direct flight, so I will be spending one day in Bangkok as well!

Currently, I am in Washington D.C. trying to get my visas because I found out too late that it takes too long to mail them in! I was going to go to New York City, but I have family down in D.C., so we turned it into a family trip! Unfortunately, every single one of these countries require a visa! For future travelers... it is best to put that your reason for visit is for tourism. I ran into problems at the Embassy of India which had complaints about my "school project" description as my purpose of visit. I also ran into problems with different embassies not offering expedited processing or the "expedited processing" being 3 days (Tanzania). Therefore, I will be going to New York City tomorrow where they have expedited processing of 1 hour for both Tanzania and India visas.

It was very interesting to stop by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History while I was waiting for my Uganda visa. I was born in Maryland and lived there and then in the D.C. area until I was 9, so I had visited the Smithsonian Museums extensively, but now I could relate so much more! They had an African exhibit where I read about the different areas I would be visiting and several photography exhibits displaying exquisite work which inspired me beyond words.

Now, before leaving next Wednesday, June 13, I must obtain the rest of my visas, pack up clothing and more importantly my photography equipment, meet with various advisors to finalize interview questions and ask last minute questions about emergency situations and etc, and get a loaner laptop because mine is full of bugs and gets overheated in 2 minutes in my air-conditioned house, never mind in the heat of African sun.

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