We have been back in the United States for a couple of days now. Between the jetlag and the immediate return to work and school, I can already feel the hustle and bustle of my life before my Capetown experience returning to me. It is nice to be back to my old familiar world, but I am very much afraid that I will get caught up in it and lose the important lessons that I gained while on our journey in South Africa. There were some very valuable lessons that I want to keep with me forever and that I want to apply to my life in general, but I know that such things are very easy to lose when outside of the setting that they were learned in. I do not want this to be my truth following such an amazing journey. I do not want to lose sight of what South Africa has given me.
So the question is... where do I go from here?
I cannot say exactly how things will play out... but I do know that I have some concrete goals for myself to help me to not lose what I gained in South Africa:
1) I will stay in contact with the people that I went on this trip with. The idea of ubuntu that we learned about in South Africa is that a person is a person through other persons. I am who I am because of the other people in my life. This applies to my experience in South Africa as well. Each member of our group added a piece to the puzzle that made up what this experience was. In order to keep that experience alive, it is important to keep our bond alive. My commitment to ubuntu will start with my commitment to this special group of people.
2) I will contribute to a fundraising project with my fellow South Africa classmates to raise money for the two organizations that contributed significantly to our experience. I'm not sure what role I will play in this fundraising, but I will do my best to be sure that it gets done and to be sure that I give all that I can. Both EducoAfrica and Africa Tikkun were vital to our experience, and furthermore, both are vital to South African youth. I want to give back in anyway that I can.
3) I will become an activist. In order to do this, I plan on first being more informed about the world around me. I will do this by reading... newspapers, magazines, online articles. From there I will focus on issues that are important to me. I will take whatever steps I think are necessary to contribute to the issues that I care about.
4) I will do my best to be aware of the reality that I have an impact on everything and everybody around me. The decisions I make, or that I neglect to make, does truly have an impact on more than just myself. I will do my best to make decisions based on my awareness of how they will impact the people and the world around me.
5) I will do my best to always consider that other people have different lived-experiences than I do. By acknowledging this, I will see others as individual human beings. I will be able to better understand the people that I meet. And even if I can't fully understand the people that I am around, I will be better able to contribute to any compromises we may need to live together peacefully.
6) Finally, I will do my best to forgive those that may wrong me. Not only can this be healthy in improving the relationships in my life, but this will also be healthy for my own well being and my own ability to move on. I will try my best to be forgiving on all levels so that conflict can be resolved and true healing can take place.
I will miss South Africa! But I will do my best to honor the memories I've made there by working on the goals listed above.