I remember writing my first blog post in January like it was yesterday. The time really has gone by fast and it is still not clear to me that we are leaving for South Africa very soon.
My goals in the beginning of the semester were to:
- learn about the South African history
- explore the country
- and to do community service to help others.
The difference from the beginning of the semester and now is that my perspective and my understanding has changed about South Africa.
I was excited to learn about the country’s history, but I never would have thought there was so much cultural separation during so many years in the country. It is crazy to think of all this unfairness that we have read about (actually only happened 20 years ago). I think that the information we have been provided with will help us understand why people are behaving in different ways. We will understand why there might be tension between people, and why people may think of us as Americans in certain ways.
Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is if whether or not I personally will have a hard time to “settle in” and get used to the culture. Even if we are staying for only two weeks it will definitely be a completely different environment from what we are used to. If one would go as a tourist that is one thing, but we will see parts of South Africa that might put all of us out of our comfort zones. I am curious to see whether I can handle it or not, and to be honest, right now I feel like I am prepared for anything. Not necessarily because I know much about the country’s history, but rather because at this point in my life I feel like my cultural experiences in the past have made me very open to any country and culture.
I have spent many years in countries being totally out of my comfort zone, and once upon a time, closer to 7 years ago, I was very uncomfortable and terrified of speaking English. It will be interesting to see how I can handle a similar situation like this; where we will go to a country different than ours, where some of the people we will meet speak different languages than us, and to see if I have grown and if I am able to face it better now than I used to.
That being said, I still believe that this trip will be a challenge. What will be most challenging will be the service projects because people are depending on us.
I hope we will successfully get through with all our plans, and I am convinced we will. Having a lot of people depending on us is a little uncomfortable. But considering we have planned out our service projects very well, and because we are a great group from Quinnipiac, I am sure will work very well together. I have no doubts that anything can possibly go wrong.
I think that there are many things on this trip that will be life changing experiences, and I am so excited for every single thing that is on our schedule, but I think the service projects will be more eye opening to us than anything else- especially because so many people will benefit from what we will be doing. Even if we might have a huge impact on people in South Africa, there will be so much that they will give us as well- an insight of their lives and maybe a different
perspective of life.
I cannot wait for this trip to be able to explore and travel around in the country that we have read so much about this semester!