Sunday, July 22, 2012


Tomorrow morning, I will board my plane to come home. Leaving South Africa is hard and a very bitter-sweet endeavor. I have learned so much in my year here that it is hard to put into words. Some of my greatest teachers and friends have been my high school students. Their stories, trials, and their absolute eagerness to learn has inspired me in so many ways. My group of about 20 students, meeting three times a week, has become a family; the most lively and spunky one you can imagine. Leaving them makes my heart ache and I pray that they will continue to support each other the way we have all supported each other this year.

Nozuko's school motto is: "The sky is the limit"

My other and most important teachers have been my South African family. Nonzuzo Sibusana, a university student at UNISA, has been my best friend and confidant here and has taught me more about Xhosa culture and about life than I could have ever thought possible. She is 21, but has wisdom and courage beyond her years. She has been my best teacher of language, constantly testing and correcting my Xhosa, my insight into seemingly cultural mysteries, my shoulder I could always lean on, and ears that would always listen. As anyone that has met her can tell you, she has a great sense of humor and I will never forget the countless hours we spent laughing about this or that or Chuck Norris. Nonzuzo and her family have been my family on this side. Their home has been my home away from home. Where I was treated differently because I was American by others, she and her family accepted me as one of their own (instead of treating me like a guest or a walking ATM) and excused many a social faux pa without batting an eye. When I spent time at their home, I was treated just like everyone else and it was wonderful. They will always have my heart and when I come back to South Africa, it will be because of them.

Nonzuzo and me at Tsitsa Falls

Goodbyes are hard and I’ve never been good at them. These goodbyes that I’ve been saying the last couple days have been some of the hardest I have ever experienced because there are so many things left open-ended. I wonder if and when our people at Rotary will get housing, if my students will be able to attend school next year without support from the Project, what Mthatha is going to be like without AMM anymore. I will never be able to come back to this world I’ve been living in this year because it is all breaking apart and scattering to the winds presently.  And if it was going to be hard to let go of this place to begin with, it is infinitely harder now without any closure or a knowledge that the good work being done by AMM will continue when I leave. As they say, though, all good things must come to an end. Life will go on for me and for everyone here. So, Mzansi, it has been real. Ndiyakukhumbula qoqoqo. I will remember you always.


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