In a little under twenty-four hours I will be on my first flight off this continent. Comfortably, I’ve flown hundreds of times from city-to-city within the United States. This trip, however, will be completely different. Leaving my own truth, everything I know and am comfortable with, to spend two weeks in an unknown place and space with fourteen individuals, most of whom I barely know, is intimidating, anxiety-provoking, and nerve-wracking, to say the least.
On a brighter note, South Africa has been on the top of the list of places I’ve always wanted to visit. I’m not really quite sure where or when my fascination for wanting to visit this country began—maybe it was after interviewing a work study at UC Berkeley who grew up in South Africa for a third grade project, or after I watched The Color of Friendship on the Disney Channel and was given a ‘Hollywood glance’ at how there are more similarities than differences between our two countries and the people who live in them. Whatever it was, as soon as I heard that there was a course specifically designed to learn about social work and social justice in South Africa, I knew that I could not pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Excited and scared are truly understatements as I prepare for this next adventure in my life and career.
On a more personal note, after everything that has occurred over the past few weeks, there is just as much unknown for me here in the U.S., as there is in South Africa. I don’t know what this next administration will mean for my loved ones, myself, my clients, and my work. What I do know is that I have every bit of want to make a positive change in the world, and little-to-no knowledge on how to do so when working with such varying truths.
“…one person’s truth or reality is no more true than another’s.”
– Jacqueline Bascobert Kelm
As many times as I read this quote and agree with it, I find it hard to remember when having conversations with people whose truths are so drastically different from mine. How do I hear, truly hear, someone else’s truth and help them to hear mine? How important is it that the other person hears my truth? What happens when another person’s truth goes against every belief, moral, and value that I hold?
I’m not quite sure what I’m hoping to find and gain during my time in South Africa, but maybe living in someone else’s truth for a couple of weeks will help me learn how to hear other peoples’ truths, see the value in them, and help others do the same.