Our W.O.W. is Anna Dove. I’ve known Anna for a few years now. We met when I was a teacher’s assistant for the psychopathy seminar of which Anna was a student. Several years later we are still working together under the same professor for HOPE Mentoring, where Anna is a mentor. Anna traveled all summer in Uganda and Europe so I was eager to talk with her when she returned. We’re both headed to Norway with HOPE next May and I am also eager to travel together outside of New Castle, Indiana where we mentor each Friday. This hard-working student has sage advice about cultural differences while traveling and amazing photos that will inspire you. Enjoy!
Tell us about yourself.
I guess I started travelling my freshman year of college. I went to Costa Rica on a service trip for a week in Spring of 2015 and that was what sparked my interest and passion for traveling. After I returned from Costa Rica, I immediately changed my major because of my experience on the trip. I’m now in my senior year of college and studying nonprofit management.
We went down there for seven days and helped to rebuild a school that was torn down in an earthquake in 2011 because the government still hadn’t appropriated funds for it to be repaired. We also raised enough money to buy one of the school’s kitchen’s a fridge to store lunch foods in for the students. I traveled with Project Kids Network, which is a volunteer travel based organization, which is actually based out of Indy.
Since then I’ve travelled to five countries. Costa Rica was my first time leaving the country. I’ve probably spent about 4 to 5 months travelling since then.
Why do you travel?
To learn and experience how other people live, to see new things and different ways of life.
How do you balance travel and work?
I travel on breaks from school. I’ll do weekend trips when I can have the weekend off work, otherwise I rely on Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, spring break, and summer break. I’m pretty sure I’m going to Texas for Thanksgiving break and possibly Las Vegas for Christmas break, and hopefully Guadeloupe for Spring Break. Then next May I will be travelling to Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned from your trips?
Probably that when you go somewhere and you’re experiencing a different culture or a different way of life – to keep in mind that you’re there to learn and experience and not to judge. That culture belongs to those people, and it isn’t right or wrong and there is no best way to live. People who travel to the Global South tend to judge and assume that those people are doing life wrong because it is different and American’s tend to be ethnocentric.
Tell us about one of your favorite travel experiences.
Probably when I went to Uganda was my favorite. I lived there for three months and I worked and lived with the host family. Living there for three months I was able to experience most aspects of their daily lives and understand how Ugandans live. Being there for so long I was also able to learn a lot about myself. Like patience, was a big one, because everything in Africa moves slowly, many development workers refer to this as “African Time”. Their cultural view in Uganda is that the quality of the time spent together is much more important than the length of time.
In Uganda I learned that, I don’t know the right word for this feeling, but kind of like “everything will be alright”. When I went to France, my friend and I were running super late for the airport and she and her family who was driving us were panicking. And I remember just sitting in the back seat like “if we miss the flight we miss the flight, it’s not the end of the world, everything will work out”.
We live in a culture where everything is about deadlines and efficiency, but in Uganda it’s more about relationships and the time you spend with other people. Their view is that the work will get done when it gets done but they value quality time with each other over productivity.
Work “starts at 8” but if you get there at 8:30 or 9 it’s fine. There are deadlines but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t make them if you were building relationships with people. Their work culture is so much more relaxed. I was only there for 3 months and I probably took 5 or 7 sick days. But there was no pressure at all to go to work when you’re sick there like there can be here.
What did you do in your free time?
I travelled to the capital as much as I could so I was able to experience that because the capital is much different from the village I was living in. In my other free time I would just walk around, that was basically it. I enjoyed exploring new places and going to my usual places I had a supermarket called Moon that I would visit every day. They were the only store in town that sold my favorite candy bar (Mars Bar). There wasn’t too much else to do. I had Ugandan friends and we’d just walk around and talk about our lives and the world.
I lived in a compound. The family I lived with was super wealthy for Ugandans. There was the main house and two industrial sized chicken coops where we had about 1000 chickens. Then there were the back apartments where one of my host brothers lived & the 3 housemaids, and then the main house was 3 bedrooms and a living room and dining room. My host dad was a professor which is one of the most prestigious jobs you can have in Uganda. We had a stove and an oven but they didn’t use it. The housemaids cooked out back on a charcoal or firewood stove. We had a fridge but we never used it, it was never plugged in. We had electricity but it went out like every day. In Uganda, these items are more of status items (like we would have name brand clothes or fancy cars) than actual useful items.
Always carry a jar of peanut butter with you! I went on a hike with other interns at Sipi Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in Uganda – it was like a ten-mile or 12-mile hike and was super difficult. Partway through the hike, when we got to the first waterfall, everyone else was taking photos and I waited my turn by sitting down on a rock and eating my peanut butter.
Thanks for reading! Want more travel tips from Anna and women like her?
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