Several weeks ago, my 92 year old Papouli (Greek for grandfather) woke up, reached for his glasses and panicked. Even with the help of his trifocal lenses, he could not make out the objects in his bedroom. Cloudy crosshatches distorted his vision. He could not see. His mind raced as he considered what this blindness meant: no sight, no driving, no independence. While coming to terms with his new condition, a glare from the carpet caught Papouli’s eye. He felt around on the ground and found a lens from his trifocal glasses. The distorted vision and dizziness were not a permanent condition, but the result of a missing lens.
Papouli laughs as he shares the story with me. In several days, I will depart for Ghana, and I have come to him with a list of infinite concerns and worst case scenarios. Although Papouli is fond of funny stories, he recounts this fleeting panic to remind me that I need to relax. Swept away in the minute details of my trip, I have lost sight of the bigger picture. The Walker Odyssey Fellowship has provided me with a singular opportunity to design and carry out an independent study project. I have been dreaming about this since my freshmen year of college, and I am incredibly grateful to all who have made this dream a reality.