I woke up this morning realizing that this is it. We leave tonight. If I get out of bed, the day will launch into fast forward. Hence, why I am currently still in bed as we speak.
I have a good deal of thoughts running through my head that I can't possibly begin to make sense of or even make into complete sentences. So let's just talk about recent events, reflect a little, and try to bring this experience to a satisfying close...
Yesterday we had our last class on the UCT campus. We discussed the US's role in Apartheid (and it was a significant role, Mr. Reagan) as well as our potential plans upon return to Minnesota. We committed to anything from better communication with family, to volunteer work, to opening a non-profit center. We have also committed to stay in touch as a group and routinely gathering together to keep our spirit of service and community alive.
Following class, we departed for dinner at the Top of the Ritz restaurant, where we were treated to 360 degree views of Cape Town from 21 floors up. And at sunset, it cannot be beat. InterStudy treated us to the lovely dinner, complete with chocolate mousse.. haha.. you had to be there.. so many inside jokes, so little time. All in all, fan-freakin-tastic. InterStudy has been very good to us, and I think I speak for the group when I say that their guidance, care and friendship has been invaluable.
So here I am. A day away from home, with a bit of packing and cleaning to do. But the real difficulty lies ahead. Sure, the plane ride is no walk in the park, but I have to leave this place and these people. The goodness that lies within the South African people is something that is remarkable. But let me not forget to include the goodness in my American comrades as well. They have taught me so much in my short time with them and have made me feel a part of our community. I look forward to fun, fellowship and social justice activism with them in the future. Things can only look up from here, as we have much to do and the abilities to accomplish so much. So a few "thank yous" to those near and far....
Thank you, Nate, for constructing an experience that was able to change lives. Your thoughtful planning and preparation did not go unnoticed. I am more motivated than I've ever been, and this entire experience has done that and so much more for me. Also, if I ever need a cat herder, I know who to call.
Thank you to my classmates (you're so much more than "classmates").. SA friends, how about that..? Your bold personalities, out-of-the-box thinking and enthusiasm makes me want to be more like you. I'm so proud of you all and what we have done here together. I am excited to see the positive things we can accomplish in the future.
Thank you to my parents for always being supportive and motivational. This time was no exception. You could have talked me out of it. You could have told me I can't afford it. Instead, you said "why not?" Even at this age, you have a huge influence on me, and I thank you for your encouragement.
Thank you to my good friend, Denise. Quite honestly, lady, you just saying that I'd be crazy not to do this was like the nail in the coffin. Live life to the fullest, right? This is only the beginning of the adventures, and next time you're totally coming with me.
And to Danny.. Thank you for everything. Even though we knew this would be tough, you were still so excited for me. It helped ME be excited for me. Thank you for looking after that hairy beast that lives with us, as it's quite the job. (Has he started paying rent yet?) Thank you for hanging in there with me and touching base. You keep me going when I feel weak, and you share in my joy even when you can't be here. Thank you for your love.
Last but definitely not least.. Thank you South Africa! For your beauty, your spirit and your people. I have spent the majority of this trip purely amazed by it all. I will do all I can to take back the love and charity you have shown me in these past 3 weeks. I am a changed person, and all credit should go to this extraordinary place.
With that, dear friends and family, I am off. Not just off to the US, but off to bigger, better, bolder things. See you back home!!!