A Better Version of Myself

It’s been just under two weeks since I arrived home in Denver. The past two weeks have been filled with a lot of time to more deeply process my time in South Africa and delve into the ways in which South Africa has changed me. Aside from the many beautiful things I bought in Cape Town as treasured momentos and gifts for others, I also took home some important memories and lessons (some more serious than others). Here are just a few:

Only in South Africa:
– I learned that “robot” in South Africa actually means traffic light. This took me about 5 days in-country to realize that every time a South African I was with commented on a “robot” they were actually talking about traffic.
– Appletiser is a delicious fizzy apple juice beverage. I’m grieving over the fact that the U.S. doesn’t sell it but I have come to find out that you can purchase cases of it on Amazon. I am very tempted 🙂
– Thai Sweet Chili Sauce is THE condiment of South Africa. They put it on everything (sandwiches, fish & chips, salad). It is also delicious. I am going through some type of sweet chili sauce withdrawal since being back and, although they sell it in grocery stores, I have learned it does not taste the same.
– The word “hectic” is used a lot there to talk about (obviously) busyness, chaos, etc. I don’t know why Americans don’t use it to the same extent as South Africans but I would like to change that.

Important Memories:
– I will always remember visiting Robben Island and seeing the historical reality of political oppression in South Africa which occurred less than 30 years ago. Social activists and political leaders literally imprisoned in order to silence them and their movement. It was a truly sobering experience, one that I will not soon forget.
– I will always remember our class’ tour of the Solms-Delta Vineyard. This vineyard has been around for 200 years and, for the first 175 years or so, this vineyard enslaved Black and Colored people to work on the wine farm. The incredible thing about this particular vineyard is that it now serves as both a beautiful restaurant/vineyard as well as a museum and historical site. This vineyard uses its own dark history to to educate people on the issue of slavery.
– I am forever grateful and impacted by my time at Yabonga and seeing them serve their community with such selflessness and grace. Noli, our internship supervisor, is the definition of an eternal optimist and nurturer. She has such a heart for helping and empowering the community she herself lives in. If I become half the social worker – half the woman – she is, I will consider myself blessed.

Personal Growth:
– My time in South Africa changed me in the sense that I am a better person after meeting the people I met and building these incredible friendships with our South African partners. However, I’m not really sure (besides the relationships) if South Africa has actually changed me. That word “change” just doesn’t seem fitting. I would say, instead, that South Africa has reaffirmed my love for people. It has reaffirmed my passion for social justice and my love of learning. It has reminded me, once again, of the personal growth that comes through engaging in multicultural hospitality and in exploring the beautiful and different life experiences we all have. It has reminded me that, although it is important to celebrate diversity, it is equally important to remember and see just how similar we all are. All of us want to love, want to be loved, want our communities to flourish, want education, and want our families to be safe.

In a way, South Africa has changed me. But I would say, more accurately, that it has helped me grow. I left South Africa a better version of myself. IMG_0878

Me and Cia (the granddaughter of the host family I stayed with)

Me and Cia (the granddaughter of the host family I stayed with)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *