This is it. If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.
— Samwise Gamgee,
"The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Rings"
It's finally here! I've been waiting for this day for months. True to form, I packed everything yesterday. The last couple of weeks have been very busy between finishing up at work, saying my "See you laters,'" and getting all my vaccinations. It has taken until this very moment to realize that what is done is done, and now it is truly time to start this journey.
When most people think of Africa they think of poverty, hunger and war. True, there is no shortage of that, but I believe there is also an incredible amount of potential. The hope of progress that draws me to this adventure easily outweighs the negative aspects that tell me to stay home. So, go I must.
Blue Cow awaits the flight to Uganda in the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
Exactly seven years ago today, President Barack Obama, in his Inauguration Day address said, "To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow, to nourish starved bodies, and feed hungry minds." Those very words are still true today.
So, today I leave for my journey as a Noble-Watoto Fellow with hopeful expectation. This type of work requires you to not only be flexible, but also to be fluid. Things change in an instant, and I am ready to work hard. I am very thankful for all the support I have received from the Noble Research Institute, Oklahoma State, friends and family. I hope I can contribute even half of what I gain.
Tanner Roark is a 2016 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Roark is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and has one semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where he focuses on international agriculture development.