This is the beginning of the physical journey to the City of Gold, Johannesburg. It started at an airport, JFK to be exact. I have been preparing for this journey since my sophomore year at Union College. When I was selected, (along with fellow Fellow, Matt Liquori) my head was buzzing, my mind was racing, and the grin on my face was not going to be removed, so that I no longer was paying attention in class that day. Since then, I was trying to prepare myself as much as I could, natural curiosity, but the reality is you cannot really prepare, except for the visa, because lets face it, anyone who has talked to me lately knows I’ve been busy with it, and I could not have done it without the help of Bri and Tom.
Since arriving here in Johannesburg and even before everything has felt right. For example the day I left the United States, it was Mandela Day, the day Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 years old. So if anyone believes in signs, I think that is a pretty good one. Perhaps the only thing that does not feel right is driving on the left side of the road and the right side of a car. However, with some practice, that too shall become natural. I have been given what I truly to believe an opportunity of a lifetime. I am fortunate to be able to take time for this fellowship and to have my family support me. I feel so grateful that I am able to be here and to work with the Witkoppen Health and Welfare Center and with A Gift of Hope.
As I was sitting in Hal’s class listening to the fellows speak, there was one idea that really stuck out to me, to make a positive impact, but be able to step back after the nine months. I hope to make many positive impacts. Like all good things in life, it will be tough at times, but the rewards will be so much sweeter. July 19th, yesterday, I realized to the day in nine months. In these next nine months I will forever be changed, become a global citizen, with memories, experiences, and emotions I cannot predict, but I am certain it will be for the better. I think the quote that best explains this paragraph is the Minerva Fellow Mantra “Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love 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.”
Johannesburg. Jozi is home. I am ready to begin and I am beyond excited.