The most important thing this project demands of its participants is an ability to adapt to any situation. In the beginning, there was a very steep learning curve, so we quickly adopted the saying “everything is going to be okay.”
We used this as a way to support our teammates, to remind ourselves to take a deep breath, and to keep us moving even when we were feeling a little out of our element.
These moments were captured on the last evening in Nain at about 10:00 pm just before the sun went down. We had just completed the last of 29 surgeries and 77 medical appointments — over only 4 days — eaten dinner, and packed up the clinic in preparation for our flight the following morning to our next destination. We were all exhausted, but we wanted so badly to get outside the four walls of our tiny clinic to see just how beautiful the land around us was.
Boy, was I ever glad we did. This picture means more to me than just the breath taking scenery. To me, it signifies teamwork, strength and courage. I didn’t realize it at the time, but as I stood on the top of these mountains, looking out over the most beautiful scenery I have ever witnessed, I was gaining the strength and self-confidence — from both my teammates and the demands of the project — which I was going to need upon returning home.
I used our saying and reminded myself of the feeling of accomplishment and strength I had standing on top of those mountains that night almost daily over the weeks following our trip, in order to deal with the most difficult time I had ever experienced in my life. This project has given me the gift of remembering to stop and take in the moment, to appreciate the little things in life, and also to surround yourself with others who are passionate, caring, motivated, honest and strong.
(Kelsey Harding, AVC 2017, traveled to Nain & Sheshatshiu in 2016 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing. This is one of Kelsey’s pieces)