It’s been a long journey, but now I’m sitting in my room in Durban, South Africa, a cool autumn breeze through the window, anticipating my first day at work tomorrow. The landscape of Durban is more beautiful than I could’ve imagined. On the car ride away from the airport, my ears would pop as we rose and fell, coursing over rolling hills green with sugarcane, more hills dotted with towns and homes, and more hills stacked full of squatters (immigrants from places like Zimbabwe, who work the sugarcane fields and set up makeshift housing). Having just arrived in Durban yesterday, already I am surprised at the similarities, and within them, the subtle unique differences. Litchi juice was offered on the flight between Johannesburg and Durban, in a carton that resembled the apple juice I was offered on an earlier flight. While the cars look familiar, the driver’s seat is on the right. The fuzzy creatures scurrying on rooftops and scavenging along the road? No, not quite our infamous Duke squirrels—monkeys. Race is a prominent topic for discussion; amid the familiar sentiments of inequality there is a unique South African twist due to their history. But as my host mom says, no matter our differences whether white, black, or mixed blood, we’ve all got red blood. I’m eager to learn much about the culture of South Africa in my time here, through my homestay and working with the children in the community. I will be volunteering at Blue Roof Wellness Centre which serves the youth of Wentworth, a township of Durban. In the spirit of Blue Roof’s mission to bring together, support, and promote the flourishing of young people in Wentworth, I will be coordinating and teaching wellness programs, and career guidance activities. I’m excited to engage with the children in this community and to leave with them an appreciation for arts and dance and healthy living. But ultimately perhaps the children might teach me even more, about connecting with a different culture, about life, about society, and global perspective.
~May 20, 2018