My computer desktop reflects pretty accurately the kind of person I am.

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 9.36.14 AMSet on a blue background is a picture of some of the best people I know, smiling, dressed in our best for the camera on the library steps. The right side is cluttered with random documents that do not quite fall into the folders within folders I have to organize myself — old resumes and friends’ papers I promised to edit.  Ever-growing sticky notes of things to do for the day lie on top of one another in the center.

It’s disorganized and quirky, kind of like its owner.

However, a quick slide to the left on the mousepad reveals the countdown section of my desktop. These are things I think about constantly, but I hide them on a different screen hoping that the illusion of time will make it pass quicker- or in the case of the “Graduation Countdown,” hope it will stop entirely.

My birthday is in the hundreds, and Thanksgiving is nearing single digits. Right in between the two, though, sits the countdown for our trip, less than 55 days away.

The plans we are making are no longer in the distance and the activities we devised for the camp cannot be lofty things we hope are realistic. They have to be because they are slowly but surely becoming concrete.

We felt the shift in our last meeting, and though I was running late and missed the activity, I still understood the full affect.

Peter divided our group by hair color — blondes and brunettes — and gave them the task of building a structure that reached the ceiling made of spaghetti and marshmallows. The blondes were given more supplies and allowed to talk while the brunettes were given only part of the supplies and had to work in silence. When the time was up, Peter then smacked the structure that the brunettes put together.

Pretty unfair, right?

He had a point to his small-scale torture, and it was not just meant to play favorites to the blonde locks I always wished I could have had during the Spice Girl era. The blondes represented the whites in South Africa, and the brunettes represented the blacks. Peter explained that because of the oppression and unfairness before and during apartheid, things in South Africa still are not fair, even with the end of apartheid.

The frustration the brunettes felt was very real, and it was about noodles and marshmallows. The frustration we will see is caused by real struggles that knock people back down just when they start standing up. This simple activity really put into perspective exactly what we will be immersed in for two weeks.

One can only hope that the time it takes to make things right will soon become an expired countdown, like the ones on my laptop, no longer looking forward to a distant future, but staring the present in the face.

2 Comments on “Countdown…

  1. Pingback: Even the Bad Days Really Aren’t That Bad | QU South Africa

  2. I really liked the interesting way of demonstrating the apartheid, there is no way to show it in a comparable way that is as extreme, this was something so simple to show students and help them understand the struggle of what has occurred in South Africa. It showed the frustration as well as instilling the feelings within the students so they can understand and be empathetic to those who went through the apartheid.

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