Tuesday, October 4, 2011

i'm third.

If it were up to me, Africa would be the only thing I talked about all day every day. The topic is more interesting than my classes at Ball State, more exciting than who’s in a relationship with whom on Facebook, more important than the Muncie local weather, and I think I may even love it more than my boyfriend (Sorry, Jay).

However, as supportive as my friends and family are about my passion for Liberia, I don’t think I’d have anyone left to listen to me if every word that came out of my mouth revolved around my love for a country most people have no interest in ever visiting.

(Bless you, dear reader, for being one of the few who have an interest!)

Nevertheless, the fact I traveled to Africa does come up every so often, and when it does, those who are unaware of my story are always surprised.

* eyes widen *

Africa? You went to AFRICA?

* head cocks to side *

Was it hot?

This is the first question 99% of Ball State students ask me- I kid you not.

Yes,I reply. Hot and poor.

At this point I usually laugh at their predictable naivety and my dry humor as I begin to explain that, while clichĂ©, Liberia was a “life changing” experience and that if they ever have the opportunity to go, traveling to a developing country will change their view of the world and consequently, their life.

I’m absolutely thrilled on the rare occasion that someone takes an interest in my experience. Not because I like to hear myself talk, but because it’s awesome to be able to teach. I love learning, especially outside the walls of the classroom. I think most people secretly do.

Occasionally I’ll meet someone genuinely interested in Liberia, but more often than not, the conversation quickly leads to our stress over next week’s exam, or the inconvenience our essay’s due date has on our social lives.

It’s easier than you can imagine to get caught up in my daily life here at school, where the hardest part of my day is getting up in the morning and the toughest decision I’ll make is Jimmy Johns or Subway for lunch. I worry about what I’m wearing, how I look, what I say, and how I act. I care what other people think of me- many of whom I don’t even know and will never meet. I strive to impress my professors and parents, and hope to stand out as either smart, pretty, funny, or some other quality that I feel people will accept and love me for.

I hope writing in this blog will not only be an outlet for me to talk about what’s interesting, exciting, important, and what I love about Liberia- but to help keep me focused on the fact that I’m third.

It’s an idea I learned while working at YMCA Storer Camp this summer.

God first. Others second. I’m third.

Every day of my life I put myself first 99.9% of the time.

"Look out for #1."

"Stand up for yourself."

This is what we were taught to do since grade school. "Look out for others" or "stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves" don't flow off the tongue as easily I suppose.

I hope that in writing about Liberia, I won’t lose sight of what I learned during the short time I was there. I hope it will help me remember that I’m third.

Monday, October 3, 2011

what took me.

This afternoon, Bryan PapĂ©, Founder and CEO of MiiR Inc. asked me, “What took you to Liberia?

After emailing him my response, I continued to roll around the question in my mind the way you roll around a Jolly Rancher candy in your mouth. You can’t simply spit out the hard candy and suddenly stop savoring its flavor. Similarly, I couldn’t simply spit out Bryan’s question and suddenly stop thinking about my answer.

Hence, the blog is back. After four months of abandonment, I am not going to pick back up where I left off, but instead, start a new chapter. Lessons of Liberia, Part 2, if you will.

I think it was a combination of factors that took me to Liberia. Not a combination like a Wendy’s #1 value meal, where the quarter pounder, hot salty fries, and ice cold Coca-Cola go perfectly and obviously together- but more like the combination of nucleosynthetic elements scientists predict produced the Big Bang; an unpredictable and unreplicable scenario.

In a nutshell, it was a cross between my endless ache for adventure and my desire to see the world outside Midwest America. And after seeing many of my friends borrow and waste their parents money “studying abroad” in the pubs, clubs and other drunken corners of first world nations in Europe, I knew I wanted to do something different than “see the world” through foreign beer goggles and meaningless humanities credits.

Traveling to a developing nation struck me as a kill-two-birds way to see the world and embark on a guaranteed adventure. However, due to the lack of universities and increased safety risk in third world countries, study-abroad programs in developing nations do not exist.

I started looking into volunteer-abroad programs instead. After some research, I realized due to the same safety concerns, most programs do not travel to many of the poorest nations in the world either.

I decided I didn’t need a program. I wasn’t thrilled about walking in the footsteps of hundreds or thousands of past volunteers anyway. I was going to go road-less-traveled on this adventure, and try to “change the world” in whatever small way I could while doing so.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


thanks for stopping by.

My name is Laura. One way or another, you stumbled across the blog I kept while in Liberia, West Africa in the spring of 2011. To follow my journey chronologically, please use the "Blog Archive" on the right hand side of the page to start with entries I posted at the beginning of my trip in February. Below is my favorite photo from my trip, a link to the charity I started while in Liberia, as well as my email address if you have any questions, or simply would like to chat.


Sunday, May 29, 2011


So much to say but so much to pack! I leave today and am so sad to go. I'm headed to the airport around two this afternoon, and am traveling from Monrovia to Accra, to Atlanta, to DC to Detroit.

Many of my friends were over at the Chapmans last night, and it was great to see everyone one last time. Lots of tears, but lots of laughs, too. I read something I wrote thanking my friends for everything, and I barely got the words out. Tears were streaming down my face before I even stood up to speak, but somehow I sniffled through it!

I have so much more to say about Liberia and will continue to post as my journey continues in the states. Thanks again to everyone who made this trip possible, and thanks again to my Liberian family. You will forever be in my heart.

there's something I want to tell you
that I'm not sure how to say
words are going to fail me
but I wrote this anyway

and I struggled to form the letters
that spelled what's in my heart
cause love's a language that can't be written
but I hope this is a start

you've made my time here special
in a million different ways
and made me feel welcome
from my first to my last days

you've shown me how I want to live
you taught me who God made me to be
I'm sad because I'm going to miss
being part of your family

thanks for all the joy we've shared
and the hard times you've seen me through
thank you all for all you've done
you have no idea how much I'll miss you

Friday, May 27, 2011


Just got an update about Alberta that I wanted to share with you!:

“Alberta is healing well - she has had a number of dressing changes with no signs of infection. She has a little splint on that is called an airplane splint because it keeps her arm out like an airplane wing. She is cute and precious, such a sweet, little, spirited child. Pain level has been tolerable & we are looking for her discharge to be near the end of June.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

first class.

Can't believe I'm down to my last few days here in Africa! I have so much more to tell and a million photos to share, so I will continue to blog more lessons of Liberia even after I'm home.

Today I stopped by the Delta office to confirm my flight and pick up my ticket. I depart from Monrovia on Sunday at 5:45 pm and arrive at Detroit Metro at 9 pm on Monday. Somewhere during extending my stay and changing my departure date, there was a mix up with my ticket, and I managed to get bumped up to first class for FREE! I'm super excited to see what that's all about :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

fam photos.

It's been a busy week trying to check off the remaining items on my to-do-before-I-leave-Liberia list, and a few days ago I crossed off shooting the Chapman's family photos! I wanted to give them some updated fam photos as a thank you for taking me in the past few months, and below are two of my favorites.