Service Learning in South Africa

Wrapping Up

Stephanie Hall reflects on the activities of Monday, May 31:
I cannot believe we only have three days left in Africa after today! Though it felt like we would be here forever, the time has passed by very quickly. I know this doesn’t make much sense but it seems like since we’ve been in Botswana the days have gone by really slowly but the week has gone by really quickly. I think while we have all enjoyed being in Africa, we are also anxious to get home to our friends and family. I personally cannot wait to get off the plane in Nashville and be greeted by my family!
This morning my group continued our work at Holy Cross. Our goal today was to finish as much of the signs as possible. The original plan was to have Elli sketch the lettering and Sarah to sketch the logo while the rest of us painted in their work. Unfortunately, Sarah woke up sick this morning! She is feeling MUCH better though and has been a trooper! Don’t fret Sidwell family! Our team worked hard and Anna was able to do the lettering. Elli drew the arrows and Dr. Watts drew the logo on the largest sign we have to complete. Molly and I provided moral support and facilitation. 🙂 We will be going to Holy Cross tomorrow to finish, which was not our original plan, but that will provide the opportunity to play with the kids again and try to invest a little bit more into their lives before we leave! TIA!
After working at Holy Cross we had lunch and freshened up to go to one last market for some shopping. It was very different from the markets we were exposed to in Cape Town. This one was attached to an art gallery and was indoors. It was more of a craft shop than a market. I very much enjoyed it though and was excited to see all the local art. My friends and family are going to get some pretty sweet stuff!
Following dinner tonight we had our regular class time. Before beginning our discussion Kit suggested that we have a moment of silence in honor of Memorial Day and in memory of the fallen soldiers that made our country what it is today. I was really glad that Kit brought it up because on multiple occasions on this trip I have found myself losing track of my days. I even thought to myself the other day, “Is my sister out of school for the year? What day is my cousin graduating from high school?” It’s a little crazy to me how much my daily thoughts have changed while being in Africa.
During class our journal prompt was introduced through a metaphor. Dr. Bowles explained to us that on the trip last year while stopping at a scenic pass overlooking Table Bay, a few members of the group convinced themselves that they saw a whale in the ocean. They announced this to their guide, the lovely Clynton, who quickly informed them that it was not a whale that they were seeing. It was simply waves crashing into a cluster of rocks to make it look like water was coming out of a whale’s blow hole. After presenting this to us Dr. Bowles asked us to think of a time on this trip when we have been deceived by our own eyes or convinced ourselves of something and only after gaining more knowledge or information about it did we realize we were being deceived. I’d like to share a few of the thoughts that were discussed as a result of this journal prompt:
• When we first learned about Educare we were told that about one third of the children there either have or are directly effected by HIV/AIDS and may not live to their next birthday. We dismissed these facts as soon as we started forming relationships with the children and it was only when it was brought up after that we remembered this information. During our discussion we realized the reason we are easy to dismiss facts like these is because the age of the people they effect is so young and also that we had formed relationships with them.
• In our first formal class we asked ourselves if there were evident effects of apartheid. We had not been in Cape Town for very long and the majority of the people we had come into contact with were those whose job it was to be hospitable and kind to us. We had yet to go into the informal settlement of Capricorn and have women gesture at us to leave partially because of the fact that we were white. Only then did it hit us that the effects of apartheid are still extremely present in South Africa.
• When we first discussed our experience of being in the townships we said that even though the residents of these communities were facing extreme poverty, they still looked very happy. As we read through our texts such as Kaffir Boy, Ubuntu, and No Future Without Forgiveness we quickly realized that it is very difficult to have ubuntu in extreme poverty since if one person is oppressed or is facing injustice, the whole community is diminished.
These discussions really help me process everything that I have learned so far through this experience. I still have a lot of processing to do and I know it will continue when I return home as my lifestyle slowly changes because of it. The way I treat people, how I perceive things, and how I live my daily life will radically change.
Love from Botswana,

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