First off, I want to share some of my experiences for those of your reading from the United States. Thursday we left the city to go on a retreat at Groot WinterHoek. As we left Cape Town our drivers drove us through a couple of townships to show us the areas and give us a taste before we start our service learning. It was so surreal and chilling to see the conditions that some people live in and to truly realize the level of privilege I have. I have had the opportunity to travel around the United States but I have never seen levels of poverty like the townships; it was a very difficult thing to see and digest. After that we finished the 3 hour drive to Groot Winterhoek where Educo Africa put on such a great retreat for all of us; it was 2 days of hiking and swimming in the mountains, group activities, and no clocks or other electronics. The retreat gave us time to think about things we might keep at the back of our minds in our usual busy lives. Educo provided us with journals to write down all of our thoughts. I used most of that time to reflect on the last few years of my life and make some simple goals or resolutions as we steped into 2012 last night at midnight.
1. I want to finally be able to say no to all the negativity there is around me, and to stop giving into the people who create negativity in my life.
2. I want to find something that I am passionate about, weather that is a specific education/career path or volunteer program or even new hobbies.
3. I want to be more open minded to new thoughts and experiences that I could really learn from, do some things that I usually wouldn't.
4. I want to challenge myself and really find out all that I am capable of.
5. I want to be right to others, and mend personal relationships or at least apologize to those I have been bad to in the past.
6. Last but definitely not least, I want to spend time on healing myself and doing things that truly make me happy.
The wonderful staff we had while on the retreat and all the things my classmates had to say during our talking circles really inspired me made me realize how simple it is to make small changes that will turn you into a better person and those are my goals for the new year. I think being here in South Africa while looking at social justice issues is the perfect time to make some of these changes habits.