Our final class was outside on the patio of our guesthouse in Johannesburg. How to finish, close off, complete, make sense of, this intense learning we experienced together? How to prepare to answer the inevitable “How was South Africa?” when our minds, hearts and spirits are so full? Images, feelings, questions, smells, inside jokes, new friends, more questions…packaging them into a nice final essay or exam or even long conversations is not possible.
Powerful Enlightening Heavy Complicated Incredible
Life changing Painful Meaningful Extreme
Eye-opening Broadening Exhausting Challenging Heart-opening
Spiritual Inspiring Tangled Heart-warming Moving
Beautiful Fun Unforgettable Warm Unforgiving Intense
Students brainstormed words that captured some of the experience, and many chose three for a short answer to the question. They wrote a short elevator speech for those people who wanted more than a word or two. They discussed how their own racial identities have been enriched and challenged. They committed to acting on their learning in some realm upon return home. And they brought home journals, photographs and this blog to help capture more of the experience to share with those who have deeper interest to learn about our month.
It was my privilege to take this group of curious, FLEXIBLE, kind, intelligent, and respectful young people to South Africa. We owe a tremendous debt to our colleagues, teachers, and friends in the country. We promise to keep the people of South Africa in our hearts, to continue to learn about the social realities of their lives, and to apply our learning to similar realities in our own country.