Thursday, August 28, 2008

Exceeding All Expectations

The other night me and a couple of the girls stayed up talking about the diversity of our group. We came to the conclusion that everyone we came with has something different to offer, something special about them that contributes to our group dynamic - making it exceptionally enjoyable.

I came here knowing this would be a once in a lifetime experience, and it has, believe me it has, but I had no idea how much fun I would have doing it. As amazing as it is working with the kids at the school, I am just as happy with the way things have worked out for our group. This project has not been easy - it required a lot of work - but I cannot believe how much harder it would have been had I not loved the my coworkers. We feed off of each other like its our job. I haven't laughed this hard or this easily in so long.

This conversation not only brought a new found respect for everyone in OHOT, but it also made me a little sad. Everything we have been working for is about to come to an end. Certainly, we will keep in touch with each school we have worked with, we are not going to let it die after we leave, but I am sad to see this trip coming to an end. I have had such an amazing time here and learned so much - I am not quite ready to return to my normal life. Maybe I won't. Maybe this trip will mark the beginning of an incredible change in my life, and from this point on I will never be the same. I wouldn't be surprised if I continue taking trips like this, when I can truly appreciate my time off and walk away feeling like I have accomplished something. Something I can be proud of, so I can leave a mark wherever I go.

Thursday we have a long ceremony following school. When I say long, I mean it. These people make every celebration formal with introductions for everyone and everything. We'll be lucky if we get out after four hours. Considering the lack of sleep I have been getting this trip, I have no doubt that I will have a hard time keeping awake. It should be beautiful though. Elliott, one of the OHOT members, will begin the ceremony with our friend Carl from Thusanang - the center at which we are staying - with beating drums around the community. Members from all over the town have been invited. From liquor store owners to police officers, we should collect quite an interesting audience. Mmaweshi, the school at which I have worked, has planned their own ceremony for us as well, so Saturday I will have another to go to. I will be so sad to say goodbye to the children.

I have even become attached to the precious little ones I don't even teach but spend every moment with outside the classroom - they so easily brighten your day with their hugs and smiles and sweet, innocent giggles. One, who's name I don't even know, runs to me every time she sees me and climbs up into my arms. Just the other day, I wasn't feeling well so I sat down while the kids were playing red light - green light, their favorite game, and she came and laid in my lap. There is something refreshingly calming about having such a young happy child in your arms asking nothing of you but for you to hold them. I was instantly cured. I am going to miss little moments like that - they remind you why you came even though they have nothing to do with the laptops. There is so much love here, no one is afraid of showing affection or appreciation. It's beautiful and infectious and I hope to adopt their loving, non-judgmental ways. It is the most generous gift they could give me.

The clock is ticking, and soon I will be back home to share my stories with more detail and amazing pictures. I can't wait to tell you about this adventure more in-depth and to see your beautiful faces again. I will be leaving a part of me in South Africa though, the rainbow country that has far exceeded all my expectations.

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