My flight leaves for Cape Town tomorrow. Just thinking or speaking that sentence doesn’t make it feel real. Yet, I am buying supplies, packing my clothes, and getting internship clients prepared for my absence, so it must be happening. I’m going to ease into South Africa by starting off as a tourist. My partner is coming along for a whirlwind week of sightseeing, and then he will go home. After that it’s just me, 11 classmates, 2 professors, and the South Africans. I’m looking forward to experiencing a different culture and having the opportunity to learn from social workers and people from another place. I’m also a little worried too. The thought of going into a developing country as an American to do social work, puts strange pressure on me. Knowing that I will be perceived as “wealthy,” and entering into a place where I have more privilege than I’m used to, makes me a little anxious. Especially since I don’t often get the opportunity to be slapped in the face by my privilege. Though it’s definitely uncomfortable, it’s worth it. Being able to learn from other people, even if it means sitting in my own discomfort, will be worth the growth.
I’m also looking forward to escaping the United States for a few weeks! A lot of people have been suggesting putting my anger and sadness over the election results into something good, and this trip is perfect timing for that. Losing myself in the experience of meeting new people, learning from them, and helping them, is going to serve me, so I hope I am able to make it mutual. With the new state of the United States in mind, it will be interesting to observe South Africa, a country that is so starkly affected by separation and xenophobia, and see where the US is, unfortunately similar. I hope to see what social workers are doing to combat it, and hope to bring back some of their tactics to apply in my own work.