It’s difficult to put sweat, joy, and teamwork into words. The time spent in the Groot Wilderness is beyond description. Our group was comprised of all different, ages, races, nationalities, sexual orientations and genders. Instead of pretending like we were all the same most of us acknowledged the differences and tried to gain a better understanding of others positionality. This was uniquely demonstrated by the honesty and individuals willingness to share where they were at during daily reflections. Celebrations and sorrow were felt by all. When the 66 year old Mama of the group rock climbed for the first time and reached the top you would have thought each individual had just found out they had won the lottery. The emotion and pride felt by the entire group was palpable.

Individually I felt like one of the bigger things I noticed was the burnout that was so prevalent among the South African social workers. Many shared about how tired they were and how so much of their jobs expected and demanded self sacrifice. Self care and burnout is discussed at GSSW frequently, however, seeing something and hearing about it are two very different things. I imaging that this glimpse into burnout is going to inform my practice for many years to come. It is heartbreaking to see it here so clearly. Some of the social workers shared their reasons for becoming social workers and the similarities between their story and my own were undeniable. I had no idea how privileged I am to have so much choice in where I work and how much support I receive from my supervisors in my various placements. I’m so grateful that I am learning about social work in a global setting. This trip is only serving to prove that social work is so similar on a basic level no matter where you are.

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