As my third week in South Africa comes to an end I counted that I have spent (if my math is correct) 20 days in South Africa with 111 remaining. This counting is due to a mix of emotions. For one, I am thoroughly enjoying my stay here and each day brings new challenges, excitement, joy, and lessons learnt. I finally feel adjusted and at home here and it feels as if it has been many more than 20 days here. On the other 111 days feels like such a long time! No matter how long I am away I will always miss my family, friends, and my Stonehill home. However, my classes, friends, and activities have been keeping me busy! My LSCE course is incredible – This week I bonded with the class, with my community partners, and with our director Grant’s unbelievable knowledge and insights. I find myself often noting what I call his “Grantisms” such as; “I am because you are,” “Nothing for us or about us without us,” and “the problem is never the problem – the problem is always the problem”. The wealth of knowledge and experience he holds and brings to us is so great that I am trying desperately to absorb as much as possible. One lesson that I have already learned from this experience is to be more in tune to what myself and others are feeling. For example, every class we “check in” with our names and how we are feeling and I have noticed that I rarely assess myself to determine exactly how I am feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Being aware of how I am doing in these aspects as well as how my peers are dramatically helps the energy of the room and my ability to be live in the moment mindfully.
With my HIV/Aids course we are conducting a community project with the Kayamandi Township at the Legacy Center. With this project we are, in groups, paired with a community partner to address a need. Our partner brought us to the Creche, a day care center located in a shack where three ladies are trying desperately to take care of 15 children from infants to toddlers. These ladies have little resources to do so and often have to deplete their own pockets to feed the children. They simply are asking for mattresses and blankets and we as a group were given 1,000 rands (about 100 U.S. Dollars). We want to do so much for this deserving project – a new floor is need, the Creche needs to be expanded, books, toys, food, are all needed. But we may not even have enough to purchase the mattresses and blankets they are asking for. We as a group are struggling with this situation for we want to create a project that could be sustainable and include the community more than just simply purchasing materials. This project will certainly be an ongoing challenge throughout the semester and I will keep posting updates as it progresses. If there are any suggestions, comments, or questions about the project please don’t hesitate to leave comments or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
One thing that has greatly helped me in my transition to life abroad has been keeping active! From running (which I’ve been improving so much on! It must be the air in South Africa…) to hiking being active has helped so much! Yesterday I went hiking at the Jonkershoek nature reserve where we hiked, saw waterfalls, explored, and even went a bit off the trail to do some little unplanned rock climbing… All in a day’s work! Now I am off to go for a run now that the rain has finally cleared!