It’s hard to believe my time in Ethiopia has come to an end – time really does fly! I am currently sitting at my gate in Addis Ababa airport waiting to board my 20-hour flight to Los Angeles. I have a mixture of emotions leaving Ethiopia – I’m sad to say goodbye to this beautiful country and the friends I made, I’m grateful for the experience and memories, I’m excited to reconnect with family and friends over the holidays, and I’m anxious to return to graduate school.

While sitting here at my gate reflecting on the past 6 months, what consistently comes to mind is my appreciation for the SCOPE team. They played a vital role in both my personal and professional life, and I will dearly miss them. Our family of managers, data collectors, and qualitative facilitators were a true joy to work with. Whether in the office or out in the field, they took on every task, or challenge, with a smile on their face. Each and every one of them is caring, hard working and dedicated to improving the health of their communities.

In fact, in my first blog post (also named Thoughts from the Plane) I said, “Above all else, I cannot wait to meet the study team and work together. I know they are a group of talented, smart individuals and I can only hope I will offer the team half as much as they will inevitably teach me.” As I suspected, this SCOPE team taught me more than they will ever know. They opened my eyes to an entirely different culture. They shared with me their personal experiences, providing me with context and the ability to understand and appreciate their perspectives. I am beyond thankful for their friendship and the many memories together.

From a professional standpoint, I am truly grateful for my SCOPE fellowship. In the future I hope to pursue a career in program implementation, and working on the FLAME study provided me with the invaluable experience of implementing global health interventions in rural settings. I gained a deeper understanding of the barriers and challenges to working in rural communities, and know this experience will serve me well in my future endeavors as a public health professional.

As I board my flight, I am ending this life chapter and beginning a new one. I have grown as a person and professional throughout the past 6 months, and will surely take this experience with me on my next journey. I will hold the memories close to my heart and will ensure the lessons I learned inform my future work. Thank you to everyone who supported me throughout my fellowship. And special thanks to our blog readers – it has been wonderful sharing this experience with you!