Bilal Jawed ’17 – This summer I will serve as a research assistant in Kampala, Uganda from mid-May to mid-August. I will assist in a clinical drug trial for treatment of Cryptococcal Meningitis in patients with HIV. I would like to extend a deep thank you to Dr. David Boulware and the entire team in Uganda for making this opportunity possible.
I sit here in the Indianapolis International Airport, gate A6, en route to Detroit. Everything seems so much larger in the moments before takeoff: the length of the trip (almost three months), the work to be done (HIV research), my suitcase (barely under the 50 lbs. limit), and even the trip. From Detroit I will fly overnight to Amsterdam, followed a quick stop in Rwanda, and finally after almost a 48 hours later, I hope to arrive in Entebbe. That doesn’t include layovers, baggage claims, customs, security, and jet lag. My absolute final destination will be Joseph, my transportation from Entebbe to Kampala where I will be living. Please be there Joseph, please.
Over the past few weeks, I have been hearing many of variations of the phrase “life changing”. Some examples include “find your calling”, “confirmation”, “changed man”, and my favorite, “come back with a moustache”. Personally, this has been the most daunting part of my experience thus far. Not the preparations, not the long journey ahead, not living in a foreign country for a summer, and not even the tsetse flies (thanks for the heads up Dr. Ingram); but the idea of being changed. As I board this flight to Detroit, I will certainly have great expectations but also cautious ones. I will try my best not to expect to be changed but instead I hope to keep an open and active mind, learn, and just hold on for the ride.