Interview with Reverend Mpho Tutu
The purpose of our trip to Washington D.C. is to learn from people who are leaders in their areas of expertise. Everyday I have learned something that will remain with me forever. Alyse Nelson told us soak up knowledge, Layli Miller-Muro and many others told us to be passionate about what we do, and Loretta Sanchez said to never give up.
Today we talked to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s daughter, Reverend Mpho Tutu. She had many interesting things to say but one thing struck me in particular. She told us how this morning when she dropped her daughter off at school one of the teachers turned around and gave her a big, genuine smile. This one simple act made her stop and think about how small things, that we may not pay much attention to, can make a difference. This is perhaps one of the most important lessons I have learned throughout this trip. While talking to many of the individuals we interviewed this week I kept focusing on my future and what direction my life will take. Mpho Tutu made me aware of the fact that I need to live in the present and notice the things around me. Today’s interview made me realize that I have been so concerned about what’s to come, that I have forgotten to notice what is happening now.
When I came back from South Africa I tried to describe the term ubuntu, an African word meaning, “A person’s a person through other people.” I tried to express the emotion I felt upon seeing the little kids at Cotlands Aids Orphanage, or how the women singing at the Philani Project inspired me. But despite my honest efforts, I couldn’t seem to get the message across about the deeper meaning of ubuntu. Today sitting in the interview with Reverend Tutu, I began to feel those South Africa feelings. I could feel the inspiration, emotion and happiness, coming back. Then, when we asked her what she had learned from her father she said, “The quality of life is made up of the quality of our interactions.” Instantly I knew that that small phrase, that compilation of a few words, expressed the feelings of ubuntu I had been trying to make clear for a year now. There were so many ways in which Reverend Tutu was like her father, she was kind, and compassionate, she had that sparkle, and much of what she told us was, in essence, what her father had wanted us to understand as well. But she was her own person. She was strong, powerful, and she seemed to have the capacity to do whatever she wanted. Her dreams are her own. She is not her father, she is her own self, and I will never forget what she gave us.