In May it will have been 5 years since writing my first blog entry on this site. I am proud of my commitment, but it is also strange to think that I have undertaken this task for half a decade or a third of my life... Over this time, I’ve gone through so many highs and lows with writing. Some months the words come naturally and quickly as my passion urges me onward. Last month was one such occasion when my frustration at Meddy’s visa rejection prompted a passionate blog entry. Often, however, I feel like my words here are squandered and left to hide unread in the far corners of the Internet. It is hard to measure the amount of people my words reach but more importantly how many they touch. I average just a few dozen 'Likes' per month and a small, quick spike on the RUFC website when I post a new entry. This void often leaves me feeling unmotivated and lacking inspiration. It reminds me that it is so important for people to not only feel they have a voice but that they are heard...including me.
Even though I can never tell who my words reach, they nevertheless do spread. This month I have repeatedly been reminded of the influence and the power that this Blog can have in reaching others. For example, after my last entry, which I posted on various social media accounts and made sure to tag the US Embassy in Kampala, the Embassy agreed to another meeting with Meddy. They then reversed their decision and granted Meddy a visa. While I don’t know that my words influenced the Embassy, I cannot help but feel that my activism may have helped. I also cannot begin to describe my pride and excitement about their decision. Meddy will be traveling to California tomorrow from Uganda before journeying on to Chicago to present crucial RUFC field data at the Consortium of Universities in Global Health annual meeting. Be sure to follow his visit on the RUFC social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram (@rayunitedfc), Twitter (@rayunitedfc)).
I received more proof of my Blog’s reach this month in the form of an email exchange between my mother and a medical school professor at Yale. My mother was communicating with her about non-RUFC related global health topics and mentioned she would be visiting the school in the coming months with her son who would be presenting on work in Uganda at the Unite for Sight conference. She responded that it just so happened that she is familiar with RUFC and uses quotes from my January 2018 blog about ethical representation to prepare students and faculty before they depart on international immersion programs. She wrote “Here is an example of a young man, who has such a simple, yet sophisticated way of getting this point across. If they can keep his words - or at least the essence of that wisdom - in mind when they are traveling, the images that they bring back will reflect a much more robust and nuanced understanding of the places they go.” I don’t believe I have ever received a higher compliment about my writing or my work.
I’ve found that by inspiring others through my words, a feedback loop is created in which I, in turn, am inspired. After all, my words here are my own and they are deeply personal. They aren’t buried in pretext or overcomplicated language. I’m just a busy high school student who spends an hour each month writing to make my work known and to spread ideas I feel could make the world a better place. Feeling that my words are reaching others and having an impact has reignited my passion to continue working hard and posting blogs.
I hope that RUFC can help others feel the same empowerment and influence from writing by encouraging them to find their voice. During this Summer's Youth Vision Trip, for example, one of our high school volunteers who is a gifted writer, will be providing a writing workshop to secondary school girls in Loro to encourage them to use their own words to tell their stories and advocate for their communities. I hope that we can also find a platform for their words to be heard.
I appreciate every one of you that takes the time to read and reflect on my words here. It is my hope that some of you will also take the time to share it on your own social media, respond, give feedback, share your thoughts, and propose new ideas for potential entries. With your help, I commit to continue to use this Blog as a place where I express my ideas while keeping my content relevant and entertaining. It’s your presence that keeps me going and your responses that motivate me to keep sharing...Here’s to another 5 years of musings!
Ray Wipfli, RUFC founder, shares his thoughts.