During the wilderness trip with EducoAfrica I learned a lot about my limits and my own styles of learning. Overall, the trip was very challenging for me. I have hiked many times before, but I do not like camping and never backpacked. The trip stretched my limits and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. Not only was I going through many firsts, I was doing something I really didn’t like. Furthermore, the facilitators of the trip left us in the dark about many details of the wilderness. I enjoy structure and knowing plans so for me this was very difficult to deal with. I felt like I was a child in some ways. Lastly, when I am challenged like this and emotional I tend to isolate myself and gravitate to a quiet place. During this trip I was not able to do this. Since the South African culture is community oriented and they rely on each other for many things, every night was filled with socializing. By the time this occurred I was already so exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. This situation made me very frustrated, especially since I did was to be fully present during those social times to get to know the South Africans.
Because this aspect of the trip was so hard for me, I was not able to do things how I would normally do them. For example, I would have made more of an effort to connect with the South African social workers. Though I did have some meaningful conversations and learned a lot, I was unable to be socially present during the trip because I was physically and emotionally challenged in so many ways. I would have like to have more opportunities out of the wilderness to get to know them as I would have been more comfortable. Also, when it was my turn to be a leader during the trip, I did not do as much as I normally would. I was so exhausted, felt sick, and was emotionally done at that point. My true leadership during the trip was not reflected because of these things.
Overall, I learned a lot about what social work looks like in South Africa, specifically Africa Tikkun. There were many similarities to their work compared to the work in the States such as low wages, stereotypes, and student loans. Since I do more private practice therapy work, I had many differences with a lot of the social workers. A conversation I had with Ayabonga was very insightful for me. She does one on one sessions with children and we talked about how we approach sessions and interventions. It was so cool to see two different people from across the world use similar approaches. Furthermore, I had many conversations with a lot of the South Africans about their personal life and views on various topics. Getting to know them was my favorite part of the trip. I look forward to the days ahead and starting at the Triangle Project.