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Family Time

I had thought about what leaving South Africa was going to be like early on in my trip.  I figured I would leave the Rainbow Nation behind along with my email address to the couple of friends I had made on my journey.  I figured I would return with some impressive new photos, a nice tan, maybe a wooden giraffe souvenir.  However, as I sit here in my Colorado home, still in awe at how I could have forgotten how cold these snowy days can be, I realize that I had sorely underestimated what returning to America would be like.

When I left Africa, I left a family behind.  My African family didn’t look like most families I suppose: we were a beautiful mess of students and mentors, new best friends and generous neighbors, South Africans, Americans, Zimbabweans, and Ugandans.  I left behind places I had danced, learned, cried, and realized for the first time that I was strong enough to live independently.

And of course, as anyone who reflects on their point of view before and after this adventure, I must admit my perspective has changed: but not necessarily in the way I anticipated.  I expected I would return home and be overcome with the need that is still so prevalent in modern Africa.  And don’t get me wrong: there are moments when the thought of all I have compared to those I studied with and laughed with is enough to make my head spin.  But more than that feeling of frustration, I hold a sense of admiration that I could relate so easily with people that initially seemed so different.  It’s the beautiful truth in the fact that some of my new ‘sisters’ don’t look a thing like me, and some of my ‘brothers’ come from and incredibly different background, but in the end, we were all family.

I came back from Africa with insight, but I left behind a little piece of my heart.  I’ll be back one day, I know I will.  Thank you, Interstudy.  This program has shaped my life forever.


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