Transformative Experience

•June 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I told myself before I came here that it was going to be a “transformative experience”.  I did not know what I meant, but the words sounded good and I hoped that there would be truth to it.  I envisioned positive changes within myself as I engaged with the world and had new experiences.  I saw myself becoming better able to deal with real world situations.  I believed my passion to fight against injustices and oppression would be further ignited. I was to build my leadership skills and return to the United States with a stronger self-identity and a clearer sense of my future.

Now, after living in Cape Town, South Africa for five months I feel right at home here and I don’t want to leave.  I have continued to learn about development on a micro, mezzo, and macro level and my passion for social justice is stronger than ever. The life I have found is extraordinary and the friends I have made are beautiful.

This experience has forever changed my life. It is one thing to watch the news and catch a glimpse of the headlines that seem to be stuck on repeat and it is something completely else to put a face, a name, and a personality to the suffering.  To walk through the township of someone living in extreme poverty and to hear the stories of someone living with AIDS changes my perspective entirely.  To hear the stories of those who work and truly co-create positive changes for those struggling to obtain their basic needs also has an immense impact.

After this semester meeting those struggling and those struggling to help I have been greatly inspired.  Witnessing the energy being utilized to help others gives me more energy then I know what to do with at this time. It is through education and a passion to become aware that will ultimately lead me to where I need to be.

The world is growing smaller and smaller and its resources are in great decline. It is no longer an option to ignore how our own lifestyles impact others. Before, we lived our lives in the U.S. without seeing how our consumption of goods and resources is causing so much pain and suffering to others, but if we want to continue to have the freedom and access to not only luxuries, but needs we must start working to save them.

Let me be clear. The United States of America contributes enormous amounts of money and resources to others, but there must also be a change in our own lifestyles to live more responsibly. Nothing on this earth is truly ours so we must stop prancing around like it is.

Just after five months I have a much clearer vision of what I can do. I have more confidence in what I can contribute and the essential energy needed to work through what appears to be impossible challenges.  I think we all strive to contribute, but the task seems to be so daunting on the outset that we are paralyzed.  The fact is it only takes awareness and the application of your own energy and talents to be creative in the process towards the relief of another.

I have also learned lessons such as the importance of being fiscally responsible and I have identified areas in my life that need continued work such as my lack of patience. It is stereotypically American to want it all and to want it all yesterday, but I have seen where patience pays off.  My work in these areas will continue.

So here I am at the end of my journey and at the start of another. I will keep the lessons that I have learned at the forefront as I continue to walk through life. I was brought to my senses in so many ways this year.

I am forever grateful to Marquette University, South Africa, and my family for giving me such an experience. I cannot put into words how much the people I have met have meant to me. I have fallen in love with South Africa and I see a long-term relationship in the future.


Housing in South Africa

•May 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Witnessing Injustice

•May 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Here is a link to an article about a lesbian rapist who received a R500 bail (roughly $70.00). I was present in court for this decision on Thursday and it was a very disappointing outcome and an example of how the criminal justice system is failing its people.

Here is more of the story here.

Body Map

•May 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For my theology class here in Cape Town I worked throughout the semester to answer seven questions regarding my spirituality, my experience, and my destiny. For the assignment I had to portray the answers on a large piece of paper with the outline of my body drawn on it. This is a refection that came from the process of thinking on a deeper level about my beliefs and experiences.

How do I use everything that I have been given and everything that I have learned to provide for others? You can see the physical shape of my body and the features of my face, but it is only a vehicle in which a spirit is attempting to control and use to co-create an environment of peace.  Through my smile I can give someone reassurance in who they are. Through my hands I can give another comfort and a sense of belonging. As human beings we all want to belong and loneliness is a frightening concept, therefore, my spirit wants to be apart of a community of spirits.

Inside there are innate feelings of what is right and wrong. This moral compass was set before my eyes opened as a child.  Inside I know what I need to do.  Outside the pressures are telling me something else. My struggle is finding balance. What is the balance between indulging in pleasure and facing the pain? South Africa tugs on the spirit to wake up and show itself in the light. The so-called Dark Continent provided more light for me than the brightest lights down the Vegas strip. The United States will always be my home, but South Africa will always be where I feel welcome.

From the beginning I had a soul, an energy, a piece of God, love, the breathe, whatever you would like to call it, I was given a light to be used to find my way back.  This energy may be consistently present, but the body in which it is trapped does not consistently recognize it. The body is perfect, the spirit is successful, and the soul is wealthy, but beauty, power, and money is a curse on the world.  Sin imprisons me. It is the silver Aston Martin. It is the Banana Republic tie and the GQ magazine cover. It is the TV hypnotizing me with ads that promise to make me whole, but leave me empty.  Alcohol desensitizes the pain and distracts me from the suffering. I consider myself to be a caring person yet I step over the barely breathing man with my Truworths Man shoes. How do I reconcile my individual freedom with collective responsibility?

These material things are fun and I enjoy them, but do they satisfy my true self.? “Sometimes it is hard to tell the poison from the cure and all I really know is that another day has gone by.”

Am I lost in space? Am I just a piece of dust being blown around until I return to ashes? I believe that I am more. I believe that I am walking in His or Her Grace, (depending if you talk to Chris or I). God is loving someone else and love is proving that God exists.

Examining my life is one thing. Thinking I have a grasp on it is one thing. However, living what I believe is another. I’ve been plugged into the system for 21 years and I as long as I am on earth I don’t think I can surrender completely. I will always be plugged into the system to some degree, but holding onto values like sufficiency, honesty, respect, and integrity I can minimize the damage to my spirit.

When earthly pleasures shatter my spirit it is up to that same energy to seek out ways to put the pieces together again. It can be done in a church, but I prefer to do it in community. “We are all Cathedrals made of people in a Kingdom that the eye can’t see.”

This is where I come from. This is my experience, my struggle, and my work. For me surrendering means fighting injustices and using my talents to bring about positive change. My mission is difficult, but not impossible. If I can only make another smile and have that smile spread like the good news in the bible then I will have been a wild success.

2010 World Cup!!!

•May 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Quote of Year

•April 26, 2010 • 1 Comment

How can we live simply so that others may simply live?

Adventures across South Africa

•April 21, 2010 • 1 Comment

Here is a video from my trip around South Africa.