We are close to the new year, but with the same reality that I am still just as bad at updating you all in blog posts, considering my last post was 2 months ago. I have now been here for over five months. So here are some of the activities that I have been up to in the last month.
1.) My parents were able to visit me for the first two weeks of December, where we celebrated being together, and celebrated being together again in four months. It was a wonderful experience to finally be able to share this amazing beautiful country that has grown so close to me in the past four months and for them to meet the people, women, and children with whom I have been working with at the clinic was a truly amazing experience. RSA really is beautiful. My parents and I went on Safari and drove on the Garden Route all the way to Cape Town. From the experience, I have come to realize myself how much I love Joburg, and take comfortability as home now. Pictures to follow.
The prettiest view of a vineyard in Stellenbosch.
Robberg Island Panorama
Cute Bathing Huts I forced my parents to go to because I wanted to see them.
My mom completing her penguin hunt. She couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Have you seen a happier Santa Clause? Proof he can be in more than one place at a time. Cape L’Agulhas (Southernmost tip of the continent of Africa)
The most magnificent sight to see. Elephants passed in front of our vehicle, and this bull stopped to get a good look at us.
2.) Christmas. So aside from missing family and friends, and some of the other obvious sentiments being away from home at this time, I experienced my first hot Christmas. This year, instead of waddling around the farm in all my jackets because I cannot handle the cold (the visual is meant to conjure up Randy from the best movie ever, ‘A Christmas Story’) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day getting chores done, I was invited to some family gatherings. It is interesting to see how different families celebrate holidays. And different is good. On Christmas Eve, besides from their being no snow, there was a Father Christmas who did not wear shoes as it was 95 degrees and Christmas cookies were replaced by puddings as it is too hot to bake anything in large amounts. It was like having a summer pool party with a ‘cooler’ Santa for Christmas present. On Christmas Day I joined a family to attend a church service preceding the festive breakfast, gift opening, and pool party. So this is Christmas and of course, in the true South African fashion, there was a braai. I do feel so grateful to the families that opened up their homes and traditions to me for their festivities. It was a good experience to be able to see how different families in another country celebrate the holidays. I also realized how much the holiday season doesn’t really matter how you celebrate, but who you celebrate it with. As the theme goes, its the people that make the experience, and I have met some truly amazing people here.
3.) Sometimes when I’m working with patients at the clinic I catch myself trying to picture what their life would be like if they didn’t have to worry about food or money so their children can stay in school, or if their was a cure for HIV, or what the world will look like when HIV has a HIV negative generation. There are always struggles in the world, but I see it everyday point blank here. In the States, I will confess it slips to the back of the mind and I don’t think about it everyday like I do here. It has been good growth to be able to live with the people. I sometimes think of the John Lennon song Imagine. A little weird, I know, but I see it as an opportunity for what we are aiming for, and it helps make it a reality to me. To see what it is and why. Apart from success story writing, this helps me to visualize what we are aiming for. Before a game, our coach use to always have us do a visualization exercise. That is just for a game, but it actually helps in real life as well. So I invite you all to try it with me. Picture in the world, how it could be different, changed for the better. What is it? What do you see?
The Minerva Fellow mantra really does leave something behind. At first I never gave it much thought, but the more time I spend in RSA, the more I realize how true it is. It is more like a recipe that slowly reveals itself to you and you don’t even know it yourself. For those of you who never saw us chant it in public or were in Hal’s Social Entrepreneur class, the mantra is,
“Go to the people.
Live with them.
Learn from them.
Start with what they know.
Build with what they have.
But with the best leaders,
when the work is done,
the task accomplished,
the people will say
‘We have done this ourselves’.”
P.S. My New Years Resolution this year is not to go to the gym more, but to be more consistent with my blog posts.