Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hello, Argentina!

It requires courage to do things out of the routine. To take every bold step towards the unknown, one should be sufficiently equipped to deal with the challenges that come in one's way. Being bold is not just about bravery : it is about having the courage to walk the least traveled paths, explore the unexplored and do the unexpected.

One day, I was surprised to find in my inbox that I am invited to Buenos Aires to participate in an NGO related conference. I was 18-19 years old at that time. I had never traveled to any place outside of India. Buenos Aires, Argentina was known to me only as the city of football lovers, graffiti and tango. I had only seen the contours of the map, describing the international boundaries of this country : Amazon forests on one side, Chile on the other, snugly fit in the South American continent. I am invited to visit this country in two months!

I discussed this with every close friend I know. Some were skeptical that it might not be possible for a young girl like me to travel alone to a country that far, some gave me confidence and advised that I have the potential to make it. I was the only invitee from India, so should I choose to not go, one-sixth of all world population will be unrepresented in the conference.

It was so bold of me to have decided to go. I was the youngest to participate in the conference. I was also traveling outside of the country for the first time. It was hard for me to figure out how to get my visa, but I finally managed to secure it. Harder still, I had to prepare for my talks and sessions at the conference. I had to be prepared to answer questions about the recent developments in India. In short, I struggled for a month to do everything from corresponding the Argentine consulate to choosing my dress to wear for the closing party.

I had to change my flights twice. I had never made an international connection in the past, so I was extra nervous. I was also worried about how the local transport would be like. Additionally, I had the language barrier to overcome: People spoke Spanish in Argentina and I do not know the language. So, if should ask for help in case of an emergency, I should learn a few phrases in Spanish. I taught myself some Spanish by following online tutorials.

#MeetTheNewHousing : Accept the challenges. Take a bold step. Inspire.

Finally, the most awaited day dawned. I doubly made sure that everything is alright. I was dropped off at the airport and I took my flight to Dubai. At Dubai, I was supposed to be joined by another attendee of the conference, but her flight got cancelled and therefore she did not show up at all. This added to my worries, but I persisted. I made my way to Buenos Aires safely and picked up a taxi without effort. I reached the hotel, attended the conference and presented my points pretty well. Other attendees were happy to see me, because they thought that I might not attend the conference.

My first international journey remains the most bold thing I have done till date. I have made several international journeys since, but my first one seems so special, the memories of it are still fresh. I was young and inexperienced, but I made it to Buenos Aires on my own. Accomplishing this greatly boosted my confidence. I think I derived most of my courage and enthusiasm from this event.

This travel changed my life. I have since presented at many conferences all over the world. I could gain a lot of contacts because of this very first conference. My work got more visibility and I began to work in collaborative projects after gathering ideas from this conference. If I should thank myself for one bold decision I have taken in the past, it should be for my courage to travel around half the world to reach Argentina to attend the conference and make my voice heard.

So, people, never hesitate to #StartANewLife

This blog post was inspired by More details :

No comments:

Post a Comment