We are officially a week out and the anticipation and excitement of it all is enough to drive me mad! I have to admit that I haven’t and continue to have no reservations about my safety or health while I am in South Africa. It is a strange feeling to have such faith and trust in a place and in people that I have never met.
As I continue to prepare through the trips through the course readings, it has become clear that the racial disparities that plague this nation continue to dictate the lives of the black population. This reality has been reinforced through narratives of the experiences of other people who have visited Cape Town. The reoccurring theme seems to be that although the nation is beautiful and captivating the devastation of apartheid is still overwhelming present.
I must be frank, my expectations for this trip are very high. I fully intend to immerse myself in this culture, reveling in its beauty and seeking useful approaches to ameliorating the deleterious effects of apartheid. I also expect to be completely exhausted, mentally and physically. It will be a struggle not to internalize the devastating conditions for many women and children that we are sure to encounter. With this, I am challenging myself to remember that, “I DID NOT BREAK IT, I CANNOT FIX IT MYSELF.” In my professional career thus far I have recognized that I often want to provide concrete solutions to the problems of others. I have never had the opportunity to confront issues on a macro level. My hope is that this will give me some insight into recognizing the bounds of my abilities as a social worker.
I have another confession; I am not feeling nervous or anxious about the travels that await me. I do recognize how fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to many places during my life. However, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that this trip will be different from all the others in a very special way. Although I can’t identify what will set this trip apart from all the others, I am just so excited to find out!
In my research, I found one of the many Nelson Mandela quotes that I feel drives my endless travel lust. Why should I confine myself to the bounds of domestic social service practice when people all over the world can benefit from our acceptance, understanding and compassion?
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela