At the time I am writing this blog post, there are 47 days, 8 hours, 53 minutes and 20 seconds until we leave for South Africa. As you can tell I am obviously very enthusiastic about this trip…
I have posted before about our fundraising efforts and the realizations that I have had while working with our group to prepare for this camp, but this past week has particularly stunned me.
This week I was working with some of the other group members at the bake sale we hosted at the hockey game. Everyone baked a lot of food so we had a full display of delicious food, making us impossible to pass up. Like always, people asked what we were raising the money for and we replied with our usual answer: “for a Holiday Camp in South Africa that we are running”. Some people stop there while others have a ton of follow up questions. Those are my favorite people. Once I start talking about the camp, people are blown away at the concept and either think we are the coolest group of kids, or that our parents are insane for letting us go. Luckily I have come across more people that have faith in our camp, which continues to excite me even further for our adventure.
One instance in particular that stunned me was the reaction of my family. My mom has always been supportive of me “pushing the envelope” and trying new things. I am so fortunate for all the traveling my mother has helped me do in my life, and to be honest I’m surprised she lets me do half of the things I do. When I mentioned South Africa, she obviously had her concerns, but she understood it was something I felt I needed to do. Recently I sent my mom an email explaining everything that we planned on doing during our trip with a link to the blog. I just sent it to keep her informed on what I was up to, but she not only donated money but sent the link around to a several of our friends and family in hopes to promote the trip. I was so happy to see the effort that she put in to help out our cause. The feedback I have been getting from my family and friends is really great and so inspiring.
At our last meeting, Peter gave us an exercise to help put things in perspective for us. We were divided into “blondes” and “brunettes” and given the same task: make a structure out of spaghetti and marshmallows and make it touch from the table to the ceiling.
Seemed simple enough.
The blondes were given more supplies, positive reinforcement and help from Peter. The brunettes were given limited supplies making it impossible to make a successful structure. Half way through the exercise, the brunettes were told they could not speak. One member of our team had come up with a good solution to the challenge and the second he mentioned it, Peter moved him into the blondes group, meaning to imply that he was too good for the brunette group.
Very soon into this exercise I recognized what was happening. The brunettes represented the blacks in South Africa and the blondes represented the whites. By no means did our exercise with pasta and marshmallows compare to the real life struggles of the people in South Africa, but there were so many layers to understand what was going on in this challenge. It helped reinforce to myself and the group that it becomes impossible for many of the blacks to ever succeed, no matter how smart, nice or qualified they are because they simply are not given the tools for success.
This exercise made me take a step back and look at my own life. We did this exercise in our beautiful, newly built student center inside of our gorgeous private school campus that my family was fortunate enough to help me attend. I am a white girl from Long Island, New York so it may not come as a surprise when I say that there are almost zero occasions in which I felt segregated. Even in that brief exercise, I grew frustrated even though the activity was so pointless and stupid, it still bothered me that I wasn’t able to properly prove myself and succeed. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to live everyday of my life with that frustration and segregation. We haven’t even left for South Africa yet and I am finding that I have already begun reevaluating the way I look at things. Every fundraiser and activity is a constant reminder of how fortunate I truly am.