This trip was completely different from what I would or could have expected it to be. It is no secret that group dynamics were a struggle until a couple days before we left so I find it pretty exciting and slightly surprising that I miss our group so much. Coming home and realizing that reintegration is more difficult than I thought it would be has left me craving a discussion with people who understand not only how I’m feeling but are also feeling similar things. Acts of violence occurred to/with people that I love and feel close to. One in Cape Town prior to leaving and another one soon after arriving back home. It is not my place to claim their trauma and that is not my intention. These events seem to have triggered a sense of being out of control regardless of location, place in society, etc.
I’m missing the thoughtful conversation I was able to engage in at my placement, with the professors, and social workers. As much as we teased about processing things to death it was helpful. Learning to view things through a global social work lens was a skill I had minimal prior experience with. It now feels like those connections are obvious. Returning to the political climate in Colorado it is easy to draw parallels between frustrations discussed and highlighted by people of color in both countries. Since I returned home I read a neighborhood discussion about people experiencing homelessness in Denver and it was nearly the exact conversation I had engaged in with a social worker in Cape Town who worked with individuals experiencing homelessness.
This course seems to have really taught me that social issues do not exist in a bubble and are typically global. I also learned that I seem to work best when I am able to reach out to others in order to gain a different perspective. Staying open to feedback and being willing to drop my ego are only a couple of the valuable lessons that I learned in South Africa. I believe that by continuing the relationships formed on this trip I will continue to gain insight into myself and my practice. Through reflective discussions and by being willing to listen to the feedback individuals are willing to give me. South Africa was such a privilege for me as an individual and as a social worker.