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“Torn between wanting to stay and wanting to go and worried it will be the wrong decision either way…” [Story People].

 The above quote envelops my thoughts completely as I only have little time left in Soweto. The upside is that my journey does not end here; it will continue to whatever is next in this life that God has planned for me.

South Africa has been a truly blessed opportunity. I have been introduced to many traditions, cultures, languages, and experiences foreign to me. I wouldn’t trade this year for anything. Of course there have been struggles, but also, joys and giving of thanks for the roadblocks that enables me to grow as an individual. One of my favorite concepts of South Africa is Ubuntu: “I am because WE are;” a crucial motto to live by and to live among others. The idea that everyone is family no matter if you are truly their brother, sister, cousin, or friend from down the street. Family and friends have each other’s backs and are there for one another in times of challenges and happiness.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to not only live and experience the multi-cultural place of Soweto, but to also travel to other cities and provinces. South Africa is one of the most diverse places in terms of races, cultures, and landscape. It has a magnificent coastline, natural game reserves, mountain ranges, stretches of desert and of course city and rural life. I loved traveling to the many different areas and being a witness to the ways of life.

I have enjoyed spending my time with the children of CWJ and WC during the afterschool program at DAM.  I’ve spent many hours playing with them, helping out with homework and educational activities. I never thought I would have so much fun and grow so attached to the children, however at my farewell party the other day it was hard to know that this would be the last hugs I would be giving the children.  It is hard to say goodbye, but I pray that I will be able to return to DAM and South Africa again for a visit in the future.

There are many wonderful memories that I will forever remember. I am thankful for all of the experiences and people that have made my time here unforgettable.  A shout out to the Central Western Jabavu for welcoming me with open arms; the staff at DAM for providing me with a home and always sharing a smile; and every other stranger I met who made my year here incredible.  

June 16: Youth Day

June 16 is annually celebrated as Youth Day in remembrance of the students and youth who were apart of the Soweto Uprising in 1976. They were protesting the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium for instruction and learning in the schools. The march started at Morris Isaacson High School, just a few blocks from my home in Soweto.

Last Saturday my roommate Annika and I went out with friends to celebrate Youth Day. It is a huge event that was at a local park featuring many of the hottest artists of South Africa: Zahara, HHP, DJ Zinhle, and Mi Casa among others. There were many tents advertising their business and plenty of food being served. Several of the youth were also dressed in their school uniforms to commemorate the students who marched 26 years ago.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Soweto, but felt very blessed to be able to take part in this historical day with people of all ages who have been impacted by the results of June 16, 1976. Cities and towns from all over the Gauteng Province bussed in students and youth to experience the day.

So yesterday at the afterschool program I was helping some 5th grade boys with their pronoun homework. It was not the easiest of times.  This goes out to all the teachers out there as a huge thank you for what you do!! You have a great gift and I am so thankful for it.  Who ever would have guessed that pronouns are so hard to explain…why can’t we just use their name!? So thank you :)


Accompaniment. This word, this verb is the core of the YAGM program.  It is what is preached and taught to us from the beginning of our journey and into foreign lands, we are reminded of it daily as we walk among our new friends, coworkers, and strangers alike. In one handout we (Muddies-MUD4 YAGMs) received at our orientation, it stated that our year ahead should be thought of through the “lens of accompaniment,” as seen in the Bible story in the Gospel of Luke, “Road to Emmaus” and additionally based on the theory, the Circle of Praxis.  The Circle of Praxis, a process termed by Paulo Friere’s in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” seeks to focus on five verbs. To see, to think, to act, to evaluate, and to celebrate.

Yet, I would like to add another piece to what we think. For example, in many of our home churches there is usually an organist or a pianist or a worship band that accompanies us from beginning to end of the hymn.  However, here in South African churches, it is the voices of the people that carry in song and rhythm from start to finish.  I would like to think that this is simply a metaphor for how I have been a witness to South Africans living their lives as such.  The black South Africans especially, having been oppressed for years, unaccompanied by anyone other than their own brothers and sisters. As the times are changing and the races intermingling more than before, it is clearer to see black, white, Indian, and colored walking alongside one another in daily life joys and struggles.

Through these 8 months I have taken accompaniment to mean so much more than its literal meaning: to walk alongside someone.  Honestly, it happens every day.  In learning, listening, experiencing, doing, conversing, and sharing [just to name a few].  I am thankful for all of these opportunities; through both joys and struggles.  It has strengthened me and opened my eyes to so much more of this world and God’s creation. I believe that through it all my mentality and mindset has been changed and widely expanded to be much more comfortable and open to the unknown that constantly surrounds each of us.  I have learned to lean more on God for understanding and to be specific in my prayers to bless those in my community.

 “If you give a man to fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”

This quote is a perfect fit for accompaniment and all that I have experienced here thus far. 

Sammi and Isaac visited for the weekend. 
Sammi, me, and Annika hanging at home playing Monopoly Deal. :)
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Sammi and Isaac visited for the weekend. 

Sammi, me, and Annika hanging at home playing Monopoly Deal. :)

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