I’m writing this from my balcony in Dakar, poised on the arc of a transition between two West African countries like a fisherman stepping between two canoes. Behind me, Liberia, where I ran successful small businesses that are now owned and run by the people I trained, where I consulted on ICT and education in resource-poor environments, and where I learned what it took to live sustainably in a country I found constantly challenging. Before me, Dakar, where I am learning to find my way through dusty steets in a bustling city that reminds me of my Cairo home.
Like a lot of expat aid workers, moving to a new country gives me a tangible, tactile buzz: new language, new places to explore, new friends to meet. It’s mixed, of course, with the bittersweet of looking backwards at the beloveds, both people and places, of a place I no longer call home.
For me, moving means renewal, a chance to experience myself amidst a flurry of change. There is anxiety and exhilaration in this transition. The energy can be used to create wonderful new communities and experiences, but can just as easily translate into self-destructive worry and fear.
Moving isn’t just about carting stuff across borders. Moving teaches me how to respond to change with agility and grace. It forces me to be present for the now and the new. It teaches me that no matter where I go, there I am.
The second issue of the Expat Backup emagazine will be an expat aid worker’s Guide to Moving, where I’ll explore the practical and the personal parts of moving a household from one foreign country to another. The issue will include interviews with expat aid workers who have mastered the art of moving–of transitioning from one community to another, and of thriving every step of the way.
It will publish on 15 August, so be sure to sign up for the email newsletter and have it delivered straight to your Inbox!