Ok, I stared at the computer screen for a good fifteen minutes before I finally started writing this post. Quick summary of my weekend (final weekend in Plett!), and then I have some bigger stuff to tackle, so feel free to skip ahead since it wasn’t anything ground-breaking.
On Saturday, Sophie, Becca, Alex, Jules, Sam, Nelsen, and I all went into Plett together since the rest of the group was going skydiving. We got some DELICIOUS sushi and spent the rest of the day chilling on the beach. The waves were pretty rough and the sun was super intense, but I played mom for a few hours and made sure no one went into the water alone and everyone had sunscreen on (ironically, I was the one who got burned…). That evening, we met up with the rest of the crew at a local bar/restaurant and listened to a live band while we all just hung out. The vibe was really, really awesome: it was the first time we were all together in the evening without the PLs, just as a group of friends. Hopefully we’ll get to do more of that in the future. On Sunday, we headed back to Ingwe for some cool stuff with birds and a nice hike, and then a delicious buffet and a session of building owl-houses. Overall a chill day, with lots of games played on the long bus rides.
Ok, onto the bigger matters at hand: this is my last post while living in Kwano. I haven’t really thought about it until now, but writing that out makes me really, really sad. Martha admitted to Jenni and I the other day that although she has a son, she’s always wanted a daughter, and she feels much safer and happier with us in the house. She’s been more than a gracious host: she’s been a mother to us, boiling hot water for our baths every morning since there is none, making sure we have tons to eat, finding out our favorite foods and stocking up on them, giving us our own blankets to snuggle up on the couch with. So many times she has told us that it’s not her house, it’s our house, and her presence has made this somewhat terrifying experience so easy and amazing. I’ll miss her in more ways than I can put into words, and I don’t think I can ever truly thank her for opening her home and making my time here so unforgettable.
For the past few weeks, every time I mentioned that I was living in a township, I received a reaction that varied from shock to delight to horror. Some people thought we were taking advantage of an amazing opportunity, and lauded our efforts to truly understand the people and culture here. Others were downright offended, arguing that townships were dangerous and inhabitable places, completely unfit for a group of all white students like ourselves, wracked with criminals, drunks, and savages. It was those reactions that really gave me pause. I reflected on some of my own fears coming into the township, and realized that many of them weren’t far off from those of the people I considered to be ignorant and rude. I was ashamed and embarrassed. After being here for more than a month, I’ve come to realize that although my life back home is different in so many ways, there are more ways in which it is the same. We all chase that elusive quest for happiness, which can be as simple as a roof over our heads and health for our family. It is these basic wants and needs which make us human; these things that draw us together, no matter the distance and differences between us.
Which brings me to another thing that’s been on my mind for the past few weeks. Ever since we watched the film “Human,” I’ve been thinking about what it means to be human. The best I can come up with is this: being human means jealousy, fear, rage, incompetence, selfishness, disgust, bitterness, and hatred. We are inevitable in our tendency to make mistakes, and even the best of us retain some unsavory attributes. And yet, being human also means kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience, laughter, growth, and so many other amazing things. As humans, our ability to love unconditionally is so incredibly encroached in the fibre of our being that it seems capable of overpowering the myriad of other emotions that pour out of us at all times. So yes, we are flawed beings, but we are still redeemable. We are mismatched, pockmarked, broken, and stitched together again, but we are beautiful, in all our imperfections. It would do us well to remember that.
Some of those ideas are touched on in our media projects, which is the final glaring aspect of my life right now. In each core country, we are able to break into small groups to tackle a specific problem or idea that has resonated with us from that country. Once in these groups, we then work to present that idea in a short media presentation, using whatever medium we choose. For South Africa, Jules and I took immediate interest in a comment Sandra made about the impact drinking has on the spread of HIV/AIDS. We wanted to roll with that idea, and it has expanded to address the current drinking culture in South Africa as a whole. Media project presentations are on Thursday, and we’re planning on making a podcast, but that could potentially change between then and now. Unfortunately, being such a small group means that it took us a little longer to get our act together, so we’re a little behind where we wanted to be at this point. Here’s hoping it all comes together!
On Friday morning we’re leaving Plett for Addo, the site of our first enrichment week!! We don’t have many details other than the fact that we’ll be going on a safari, so I’m definitely excited for that. Not sure what the Wifi situation is like out there, so unclear if I’ll be able to post an update next week. If not, then the next time you’ll hear from me will be in India!
Other news: Sophie, Mandy, Jules and I started our new job yesterday: teaching elementary school kids at the primary school Phakamisani. I’m having a great time! The kids are really sweet, and it feels good to help out the one teacher in a class of 44 fourth graders, even if they do tend to be extremely distracted by my hair and skin and clamor for my nametag. It’s making me really excited/nervous for our next unit in India: education!
Also, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! A bunch of us are still trying to piece together a little celebration this weekend, but not sure how that’ll play out. I’m currently planning on being a flower child, will possibly try to post pics?!?
All in all, I’m beyond grateful for my time here, and as much as it breaks my heart to leave Kwano behind (and my amazing roomie/Kwano Krew), I’m excited for the road ahead!
Love to everyone back home, and send me Halloween pics please!!!
In order to save the world, we must first discover it.