Dear parents, family and friends,
The students and faculty of our Gonzaga team have safely arrived in Lusaka after a morning flight from Zambezi with our partners Flying Missions Zambia. They will do some final souvenir shopping and celebrating in this capital city before departing Thursday morning for London and the journey back home.
I’m at a loss for words. As one who enjoys hearing myself speak (an occupational hazard), this is rare and frightening. For the past two months, I have had the incredible pleasure of studying, traveling and exploring Zambezi with a truly remarkable collection of Gonzaga students. We have laughed, we have cried, we have cried while laughing. We have been challenged in expected and unexpected ways. We have been supported by a community that can’t help but love us unconditionally. You have shared in these stories, so beautifully written by our students, on this blog. I know that you have been challenged and touched and I’m so thankful you were along for the ride.
I also hope to convey my thanks for allowing and supporting your students in this opportunity. “What? You want to go to Zambia?” Thank you for your trust. I recognize that it is not easy having loved ones so far away especially without the personal communication that we have come to expect.
I can honestly say that I have been changed by your students. They are remarkable individuals who have embraced living outside of their comfort zones and have tackled big questions without easy answers. Our evening reflections have been an amazing space for learning and processing our daily adventures. These students have been journaling about this experience like struggling dedicated novelists. They have also introduced me to relationships and realities in Zambezi, a place that I affectionately call my second home.
The Jesuits are fond of saying that a Jesuit education “ruins you for life.” I hope that this experience has ruined your students in all of the right ways. We have learned so much and will continue to learn from this experience. We have been thinking about Mother Teresa’s words that “There are no great things, just small things, done with great love.” I have been encouraging students to find these small things that will connect them to these relationships and lessons from Zambezi and integrate them into their lives. You can help by finding the time to truly hear their stories, see their photos, and ask them good questions.
I do hope that when you are next on Gonzaga’s campus that you will come by my office. I have a story about your son or daughter that I would love to share, and in many ways, we already know each other.
“Dr. Joshua” Armstrong