In less than one week, we will be leaving for South Africa. It hasn’t completely hit me yet. There have been small moments, for example, when people ask me about my summer plans, or when our trip t-shirts arrived; but it still hasn’t fully hit me. We are going to South Africa!
Our class chose to name our trip Umbono, a Zulu word meaning “perspective”. We feel like it expresses our goal for our journey. Collectively, we want to gain a greater sense of the world around us, by immersing ourselves in a different culture. Personally, I want to gain a deeper understanding of a post-apartheid South Africa, a country in repair. I am excited to meet Thulani Mabaso, a man who lived through the apartheid era and fought against that oppressive system. I want to learn how he is able to be so forgiving; so forgiving that he is able to work closely with a prison guard who worked on Robben Island while he was imprisoned there.
My goal for this journey is to take every opportunity that comes to me and come out feeling that I got the most that I possibly could out of the experience. It is easy to plan for the upcoming trip, what I am packing, what I am wearing, who we are meeting, but I don’t think I will understand the magnitude of how lucky I am to be going on a journey like this until I am in the air, on the way to South Africa.
Through the hustle and bustle of junior year, I haven’t quite thought about going to South Africa. Yet, as I sit here now and write this, it’s starting to hit me. My classmates and I will be embarking on this unique and special learning journey, halfway across the world in t-minus 6 days. One thing I have definitely already learned in preparation for this trip is to “trust the process,” as Ward told my class and me on the first day of Values class. This has been a challenging class for me throughout the year, as I am a person who likes to know exactly what is to come and prepare accordingly. Basically, what I am saying is that I am a bit of a control freak and I dislike not knowing what to expect. However, throughout the school year, I have learned a lot in Values class and I have come to realize that I should be more open and not get caught up in my expectations, as they will only hinder my experience on this trip.
Despite my apprehensions about the unknown of this trip, I am very excited to visit South Africa and become immersed in the history and culture there. I think that it will be very interesting to visit a country that is a relatively new democracy and has a very violent and tragic history. I think that this trip will help me to gain more perspective and grow as a person, as it will push me out of my comfort zone. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and I cannot wait to meet the people there and share stories with them.