What a cliché it is to say that leaving is bitter sweet but I feel it has never been more appropriate. I feel so fortunate to have been able to stay in beautiful Cape Town for an extra 4 days, I certainly wasn’t ready to say goodbye to South Africa last week. Exploring this city on my own watch has offered me a whole new perspective on the city as well as the chance to spend time with my new American and South African friends.
I know that I have secured a friendship with a particular South African whose presence and strength I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It is a connection that will not falter in the face of time and distance. I am so grateful for the honor of her friendship and continue to learn from her strength every time we are together.
I came to this country hoping to truly immerse myself in the culture and learn about the social injustices that South Africans continue to endure. What I am leaving with, however, is so much more than a cultural immersion experience. This country has truly been a test to my patience running on “Africa Time” has exemplified my struggle to relinquish control of a schedule and such. I have also found myself frustrated at times with my inability to “fix” some of the things that I have seen here. Most notably, I felt this while in the government hospital. This was a huge turning point, I believe, in my social work profession as I realized that sometimes things don’t need to be fixed. Maybe we just need to listen to what the client or patient feels needs to be altered or changed and meet them at that point.
These past four days in Cape Town have been quite the whirlwind, from wine tasting to shark cage diving to shopping it feels like we have really transitioned from our cultural experience and put on our tourist hats. While this was a welcomed change it has been more exhausting than I expected and with that I am ready to bid farewell to this beautiful country. I am dreading saying goodbye for the last time to my wonderful South African friends but I know that the future will hold many more opportunities for our paths to cross and for us to learn more from one another. I am so looking forward to returning to my internship and applying some of the knowledge that I learned from social work practice here in Cape Town.
I know that this goodbye is merely temporary and that I will at some point be back in this beautiful country, which makes leaving a little bit sweeter. It feels as though I have been here forever but there will never be enough time for me to see everything that there is to see. It is true what they say it is as if there is a whole world within this country. I believe that this is true not only in terms of geographic treasures but this country is so rich with culture and diversity that is in the midst of blossoming. This truly was like traveling back in a time machine and seeing the immediate effects of apartheid and comparing that to the civil right injustices that plagued America in the 60’s.
I can’t wait to return and see all the strides that this country and its amazing people have made towards embracing their diversity.