I packed up my things 2 hours before taking off to the airport. Washed stuff in the last bottle of vinegar I purchased from the Kwikspar (supermarket in SA) (heard vinegar is good for killing bacteria). Slept in a house that belonged to my Momma Nubantu (my benevolent caretaker in our home-stay). Ate an outstanding feast prepared by all the Mommas (farewell parting).
Arrived at the airport. Got through customs.
Boarded the plane.
Flew for a while.
Landed in Seattle.
And, now that it’s been 3 months since, I will say this. I don’t think I suffered from culture shock.
I think I’ve been bulldozed with relief.
As a White American I traveled with privilege and prestige. Had my life been different and I’d been born a South African, my whiteness would have secured me from the oppression that South Africans of color have suffered. Because of Apartheid. This was a status that I had no choice but to carry around with me. During the entire trip, it was like an invisible sign hung above me. It’s rims were lined with flashing bulbs and it read, “Privilege! Privilege!” When I walked through the streets of Observatory, even to get a cup of cocoa, I was struck with this awareness. Every. Single. Time. Especially if I was the only white person to be seen. My presence sometimes became a symbol of money. Wealth. Someone to milk for all that she’s worth in the markets. My presence was seen as a place of power. And…this caused me to be uncomfortable.
No one, no one human being should ever possess this much prestige over others.
I can’t tell you how many moments I simply observed the events unfolding around me with a quiet eye. Leaping into situations with words or thoughts would have been careless. If I hadn’t been open to them, there would have been so many learning moments I’d have missed.
You bet I made myself humble.
Pride and fearlessness erupted from moments such as the ones I’m about to share. Humor too. I experienced all.
When I think about all of the the things we accomplished in those short 4 weeks, all of the things you have yet to read in my blog posts, I can only grin foolishly at the immensity.
Every day was full of challenges and inner realizations enough to make me struggle internally. Really struggle. With who I was, who I wanted to be.
Every day was full of triumphs. These moments filled me with enough courage to shed off the person I thought I was and stand up with one that faces challenges head on.
It was like I glowed on the inside with something I couldn’t explain, and appeared quiet and retrospective on the outside.
Every day also hit my senses like a tank.
The lessons I learned. The places I stepped into. The lives I touched.
The lives that touched me.
I don’t know how to end this blogging. How to tell you everything.
But, I guess I can’t. Ha!
That’s a somewhat bitter realization. Yet, at the same time?
Maybe I’m not supposed to.
Maybe, many of the things I learned? Need to rest inside of me, dormant, until I reach down and embrace them once again.
A mentor once told me that these types of experiences plant seeds within you.
They may not be actively growing now.
They may not begin to germinate for years to come.
But they are there. Yours. And yours alone.
Thank you, everyone, for joining me on this incredible, once in a life time journey.
This isn’t the end. I assure you! I know there’s always room for many more blog posts to come.
But, I need to give an ending. To this section of the story. And…here it is.