Eric Carter – Egypt, Jordan, Tanzania (2009) †

My Proposed Adventure: I am pursuing a program through International Service Learning, which will take me to Tanzania, Africa where I will work on a healthcare team providing medical aid to those in need.  Of course, it won’t all be work though.

My Rough Estimate of Events:

Days 1-3: Fly into Cairo.  Spend time in and around city.  Main attraction the Giza Pyramid complex.

Days 4-6: Proceed across Egypt to Dahab.  Find places along the way – Visit Mt. Sinai.

Days 7-8: Dahab, Egypt.  Dive the Red Sea.

Days 9-12: Cross into Jordan.  Tour and camp at Petra, plus any other activities.

Days 13-15: Make way back to Cairo, for departure flight to Tanzania.

Days 16: Arrive in Tanzania, Africa.  Start the 3 week ISL program.

Days 17-33: Travel to the four various locations within Tanzania to open clinics and provide medical care.  Days are allotted to travel to the four sites, plus time to participate in personal recreation, such as guided hikes, etc.  The four locations within Tanzania

Include:

1. Faraja – Located southwest of Mount Kilimanjaro.

2. Rombo – Located to the east of Moshi, near the Kenyan border

3. Masai Region – ISL works throughout this region with the Masai people.

4. Bumbuli – Located in the mountains west of the port town of Tanga.

Day 34: Safari Day One to Lake Manyara or Ngorongoro National Park – Big animal wildlife day

Day 35: Safari Day Two to the Ngorogoro Crater Game Park/Preserve ” Big animal wildlife day.

Days 36-40: Safari Day Three to Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park. Split from ISL group to go on Mt. Kilimanjaro 5 day hike to the summit (additional offer through ISL, but not required).

My friend Meredith (Peace Corp Volunteer), wearing her Aggie maroon

Days 40-55: Travel through Tanzania, and visit my friend stationed there in the Peace Corp.

Days 56-58: Depart Tanzania back to Cairo. Depart Cairo back to the U.S.

Estimated Costs: $500 Flight, Activities and Lodging in Egypt/Jordan

(Flight to Cairo w/ Frequent Flyer Miles)

$1000 Flight, Activities and Lodging in Tanzania

$2500 ISL Program (http://www.islonline.org/africa/)

$900 Kilimanjaro Hike

$600 Emergency and Extra Spending Money

$5500 Total Expected Cost of Trip

$3000 Money Already Saved

$2500 Amount Left Needed to Take My Adventure

$1200 Projected Earnings Saved Towards Trip

$1300 Estimated Shortage

Dates: ISL offers two programs I am looking at, one that runs from June 8-28, or July 6-26.

My Adventure Thus Far:

Eight years ago had you asked me to describe what I thought my life would be like and what experiences I might have as of today, I would not have come even close to describing the events of my life.  As I approached my high school graduation, my views on life were somewhat naïve, as I feel a lot of high school students are.  Little did I know my views and exposure to the world was about to dramatically change.

The last semester of my senior year in high school, I enlisted in the Army National Guard thinking I would do my time in the military and provide myself with a means to pay for college.  The world at that time was a much different place, but that soon changed and I found myself looking towards an uncertain future. After spending a year in Oregon for Homeland Defense, I finally found myself enrolled at Texas A&M, where I had plans of pursuing a career in medicine. Those plans have changed somewhat over the past few years, though, as I have found myself straying from the traditional path to becoming a doctor, opening a private practice, and living the American dream.  I attribute that in part to my experiences in the military, but also to experiences I have had here at A&M.  Texas A&M prides itself on its ability to instill a sense of community and belonging in its students.  One of its mottos, “From the outside looking in you can’t understand it … from the inside looking out you can’t explain it,” tries to put in words why we Aggies say we “bleed maroon.”  For me though, my pride in A&M and the time I have spent here stems from the instilment of volunteerism it has created within me.  Whether it was the times I spent volunteering for HOSTS, or the efforts I have put into this year’s Big Event, I find myself more and more involved in aspects that give back to the community. It is because of this involvement, that I think I have found my true passion in life, which is a combination of my childhood dreams of being a doctor and my love and dedication towards helping those in need.

The summer between my junior and senior year, I found myself in yet another spot I would have never imagined years ago.  I was preparing to go overseas to Iraq, where I would spend the next year of my life. My time spent in Iraq provided me with a look into worlds I had only heard about. The experiences I had led to more changes within me in regards to my pathway in medicine, but it lacked major aspects of fulfillment which I still hope to find.  I was providing medical aid to people who feared the hospital, to detainees who had never seen a doctor in their life, and to police who had been wounded and to whom no medical aid had been given. I held “sick calls” for Iraqi police, spending hours with them, the entire time keeping my guard up and maintaining an anonymous state for the fear of corruption within the ranks. I always had my reservations when caring for these people, for fears of their safety and mine.  Looking back I know that I helped people, but while I was there it felt as if I was just doing my job.  I wasn’t free to really help these people as I wanted. This didn’t change my passion for helping people, but it take away from the humanitarian aspect that I craved. I want to make this trip to Egypt and then to Tanzania because I know it will change my life in ways that no formal education ever could.

The experiences I have had in the military have proven this to me without a doubt, and I know that serving in a program like this will expose me to aspects of humanitarian efforts that I could not get elsewhere.  The exposure I had to the lands of historic Mesopotamia, combined with the vastly different cultural aspects has really encouraged me to expand my views to an international level.  I got the extreme honor of visiting some of the most historic sites in Iraq due to a special assignment I was placed upon.  I got the opportunity to see the ancient ruins of Babylon which were built by King

Nebuchadnezzar around 500-600BC.  I also got the privilege of going on a tour of the house that was believed to be where Abraham grew up in Ur, Iraq.  We got to climb to the top of the ziggurat there, which dates back to 2100BC.  It is experiences like these that have promoted my interest in learning the history of these ancient lands, and not only learning it, but experiencing it as well. As I stood atop Saddam’s abandoned palace overlooking the grounds of Babylon, I felt an indescribable feeling inside.  I was awe struck by the historic beauty of it all.  The exotic lands of northern and southern Africa, combined with the spirited people and definite need for help, will make trip and especially the ISL Health Team option a perfect fit for me.  It will unite the two fields I am most passionate about, and will give me an inside look at what I hope to do in the future.

I find myself now at a point similar to where I was as I approached my high school graduation.  I am in need of that push, to get me out of my comfort zone, and into the real world.  I know that this program and this trip will be that push that I need.  I hope that eight years from now, I can look back on this point in my life, and see many dramatic changes having occurred.  I hope the adventure I call my life plays out so unexpected that there would be no way I could accurately describe the next eight years of my life.

Download Proposal PDF

See Eric’s Trip Report

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