We engaged in activities that challenged the idea of community, power, relationships, race, class, and our spiritual connection to something greater than ourselves. We swam in water holes hundreds of Kilometers away from the hustle of the city. We walked through skinny paths of stone and rock through some of the most beautiful - and ancient - lands the world has to offer. We laughed...and cried. The goal was to begin healing....which in my mind....is the ONLY way to begin "tracing the footsteps of Social Change" in South Africa.
We're now back in the city preparing for Phase Two of the journey: recitations, excursions, and service in the Delft township. It started with a wild New Year's Eve. Many of the students went downtown to experience Long Street - a celebration like no other. Though I was not with them, I have been on Long Street for New Year's before and it is incredible. To think that the same streets mixed with a rainbow of human diversity celebrating a new year is very new to South Africa, is exciting. It was just over a decade ago when the diversity of Long Street was not allowed. South Africa's president Jacob Zuma was on TV last night wishing his fellow South Africans the best in 2012. Though not everyone cares for Zuma, I appreciated his message of moving forward, but most importantly, his very intentional recognition of this country's horrific past. To "never forget" as the wonderful people of this nation move forward.
Last night, someone stole my car battery of out my rental car. A reminder of where we are and that a lot of work needs to be done in terms of the "haves and have nots" in South Africa but I didn't mind too much. I have been witness to this nation's changes over the past 12 years and although it's sometimes difficult to see, as an outsider, it is quite clear South Africa has come a tremendous way. How exciting for a country that has a lot to teach the world.
Happy 2012 to all the friends and family of my students. They miss you all dearly but are having a wonderful time!
- Nate Whittaker (Instructor)