My name is Anna Sotnykova and I am extremely excited to be in this course and have this unique opportunity to travel to New Orleans with an amazing group of people and partake in some development efforts. I am currently a 5th year Political Science Student at York University with raging passion for research and community development! Having recently returned from an internship at a nongovernmental organization in India, I can’t wait to sink my hands into more invigorating hands on work and potential research, not to mention, conducting further taste bud research by sampling all of the lovely food that New Orleans sure has to offer! Yum! Not to mention its culture and the music! Maybe not so much the toothed alligators, with whom I am not planning any close encounters, hopefully!
Having witnessed the New Orleans disaster solely through the television screen, a theorist in me was emancipated to see and experience the development efforts for myself by directly engaging with the affected communities, and that is one of the many reasons I was so eager to enrol in this course. Most importantly, I can’t wait to hear people’s stories, the challenges that they’ve over come and hope’s that they have for the future. Experiencing everything first hand will remove the distance that we usually encounter in academia, where most of our learning comes from a secluded environment of a lecture hall and a text book, rather than real people affected by real events, which will have a long lasting effect on our understanding. I hope to learn and do as much as I can and come back home with memories and stories that will continue to inspire my engagement with local communities.
I often relate to Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, who is to most of us is known as “Che” an intellectual revolutionary. He has inspired me to be adventurous and sensitive when traveling. Adventurous in a sense that it encourages me not to be intimidated by the casual challenges that emerge from travel such as getting lost, which never intimidate or stop a true adventurer from further exploration. Being sensitive refers to a certain awareness and consciousness that develops, sometimes without adventurer realization. You somehow come back home and yet nothing feels the same, your priorities change and your understanding of everything is somehow flawed. Although I enjoy and strongly believe about the learning that occurs when traveling, but at the same time, I like to feel confused about things that I felt so certain about. The feeling of realization, that what you knew was nothing like what you are experiencing, is the most exciting part of travel and working abroad. My innate appetite for travel is accompanied by my growing need to experience land and people, their customs, values and food, which contributes to long lasting changing and personal development. I am known to be a persistent blogger, so I will wrap it up by reciting one of my favourite mantra’s by Ghandi “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Let’s do it!