Coming Back Right


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.