Tomorrow I will have been in South Africa for one month.
Before I left I thought this was going to be the hardest part—when the “honeymoon” period ends, when I realize that I’m really not going to see the people who are closest to me for five times this period I’ve already experienced. I thought I would be multiplying the time in my head—overwhelmed with the separation factors.
But it hasn’t happened like that. I haven’t shut myself off from home—I think about everyone nearly every day. I’ll hear a song and a face will pop in to my head, or a thought that I shared with someone from home about will come in to my mind out of no where. I think the hardest thing is standing in one place, knowing that there is someone on the other side of the world that would have such an appreciation for the moment I’m experiencing, but that I can’t share it with them.
I’m trying so hard to relay this experience to all of you, hoping that something will strike a cord or broaden an understanding. It’s still all filtered through me, but at least it’s a story that wouldn’t otherwise be told.
The other volunteer Jillian and I talked the other day about the connection that we feel to this country. It’s something that swells inside me when I think about it. To be South African—an identity so conflicting on every level—is a paradigm I’m completely enamored with. There is sincerity and honesty about issues that could be so easily wiped under the rug. Racism, poverty, what it is to be “African” what it is to be “Western” and it all manifests itself in different ways.
But they are confronted. Everyone knows the issues, and instead of becoming taboo they’re addressed and approached realistically, with heartfelt intentions rather than guilt.
It’s so hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it’s August. I feel like I’ve freeze-framed home just as I left it on the fourth of July. But it’s almost Caitlin’s wedding, Aly’s birthday… everyone is going back to Mizzou. Football games will start and I won’t be wearing yellow in the crowd. Time goes on and every day I grow a little more in my understanding of life. It is amazing that the human condition, human tendencies and passions truly transcend race, borders, cultures, traditions, and environments.
So thank you all for reading and for looking at the photos. I miss you all terribly and know you’re always in my heart.