Honestly, when we started to say goodbye to the South African Social Workers, I was sad that this experience was coming to an end. I felt that I wanted more time in South Africa or at least more time spent with the South Africans. It felt that we were just starting to get to know them and laugh together. This opportunity has proved my love for international social work and going to a different country to work whether it’s education or assisting children with services (Orphanage or Safe House).
Looking back at this journey it has taught me 5 things that I have taken back with me:
1. Learn to live in the moment and live simply (Spend time with people fully without phones and listen)
2. Embrace the time you have with people even if it’s for a limited amount of time
3. Invest your time in things you love doing
4. Give your best yes (In the midst of life’s endless demand remember to spend time to take care of myself and spend time with those you love)
5. Do things that inspire you daily and encourage you
These five things have stuck with me. All of these things were things that I felt impacted me in my journey in South Africa. Each one remained in my mind after I left. One example is the 1. Learn to live in the moment. Many times when I return to the states I get back into the pattern of structure and always having to to do something that I don’t enjoy what life is offering right in front of me. So I learned that I need to spend time in the moment and enjoy the peace that comes with not looking at my phone when having a conversation or giving my full attention to the person I am talking to. Technology is something that I feel I will never be able to live without but something that I need to take charge in how much I use it. Because I tend to let it control my life that I forget to enjoy life and what’s in front of me. I realized the blessing of having a strong community being in the townships and the love that the people have for one another there. It made me desire for something as strong as the community I saw there.
Before coming to South Africa I wasn’t sure if Social Work was the route I wanted to take. I was doubting my abilities as a professional and future social worker. While shadowing the social workers, I was able to see organizations and agency’s that was a depiction of my dream job. This was certainly encouraging for me. I came home determined and inspired greatly. The organization that inspired me the most was the Rainbow House whose mission is caring for children at risk. I am part of an organization called CRU Destino and it was amazing to see that there is an opportunity to work with Rainbow House through Destino. I was amazed at how Alison was able to start her dream and become awarded the humanitarian award for her work. She is doing amazing things for the children in the home and reminded me of why I wanted to do social work in the first place. Overall, this trip has been a rewarding experience all around. All of the organizations with visited with Social Development helped me understand more of what the struggles are out there and how they are working to helping the community. I learned so much during this trip and enjoyed my time there that it’s so hard to summarize this trip when I talk about this experience because there was so much history and current issues happening in South Africa that I feel that I have to tell my whole experience every time someone asks me.