Two years ago, the seniors and juniors of Mount Madonna School traveled to South Africa. As a freshman, I eagerly watched their journey from afar, only hoping that I too would someday have a similar opportunity. I dreamed of experiencing a different culture, making new connections, and expanding my awareness. Two years later, this dream has become my reality.
Since September, 2010, our class has been preparing to travel to South Africa, hoping to rekindle the connections and relationships made by the previous students and teachers, while embracing new and unique experiences. We began our preparation process by studying the history of the country, researching prominent figures, and familiarizing ourselves with distinct aspects of the culture. As our process progressed, we began to focus not only on logistical preparedness but also on emotional preparedness. We began actively working to strengthen our bond as a class, honor our commitments, and take responsibility for our actions and reactions. In doing so, I believe our group as whole has become more equipped to handle the inevitable challenges that we will face while on the journey.
We are now only two weeks from our departure, and yet it still seems unreal to me. This journey has been my dream for so long that I now have a hard time associating it with reality. I have imagined each second, visualized each reaction, and anticipated each discovery. Now, I must find a way to let go of these preconceptions and accept that the reality of this journey will not match my dreams. I imagine there will be surprises, challenges, and most likely some disappointments; but within these struggles we will discover the true beauty of the adventure. South Africa will offer us a new and humbling perspective on ourselves and our world. Who knows how this new perspective will change us. All I know is that I will go with open eyes and an open heart.