(This blog is from the Summer of 2016.)
Three weeks into my South African journey I can already say I’m a changed person. Some of those changes are physical. I’ve developed (well, certainly hope I have, at least) a bolstered immunity to the flu strain that is making its way around the Durban area. Thankfully my ailment was short-lived, and I emerged from it with a greater appreciation for good health. Further, my body has nearly made a full adjustment to the six-hour time change. It has also adjusted to the shorter days—I’m easily able to rise earlier and get the most of my daylight hours here in Durban.
Other changes are skills-related. After spending three weeks working at Isiaiah 54—a children’s home—I’ve learned how to correctly hold and feed a stubborn baby, how to read a small child’s non-verbal gestures, how to properly throw a rugby ball (much different than throwing a football), and how to hula hoop, to name only a few (okay, I’ll never be able to truly hula, but I tried).
This one is a little obvious, but the changes have also been locational. For starters, my person is half a world away from where it is typically situated. In addition, my home in this place half a world away has just changed. A week into my time here I left the relatively secluded confines of the Eco-Lodge and moved in to the Wentworth home of Jean and Amin Choudree. Thankfully they’ve made the move seamless and comfortable, but a move—a change—nonetheless.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what all these changes mean. Admittedly, they’ve made me uncomfortable at times. By Sam terms, I’ve been in uncharted waters. I’ve never had the South African flu. I’ve never been around toddlers for an extended period. I’ve never lived with a family other than my own for eight weeks. But after spending three weeks here, I’m starting to understand that if I let myself be changed by these things, they quickly grow comfortable—even normal—and ultimately I’ll be a stronger, more experienced person for it. I’m happy to say I’ve grown acclimated to South Africa, and I look forward to finding more ways to challenge myself.