I am enjoying my time here so much that I actually extended my stay from five weeks to eight weeks. Extending my time really enabled me to really feel like a resident of Cape Town, as opposed to feeling like a tourist with only a short amount of time to take everything in. It really has been an education (and a privilege) getting to know the city and some of its people on a different level.
Having Thanksgiving in another hemisphere was a first. Some of the volunteers got together and cooked us a lovely dinner – not my mom’s Thanksgiving, but it was so nice to have a slice of home all the way over here. The CCS staff were so accommodating in letting us celebrate (and take over their kitchen for a few days). Sometimes I think I write in too many clichés, but being here has really shown me what it really means to be thankful.
Yesterday was the final meeting that we as volunteers would have with our coordinators here at CCS before our departures next weekend. All the volunteers went around and spoke about their experiences with volunteer placements and as a whole in Cape Town. I wasn’t expecting it, but when my turn came to speak, I was overcome with emotion-it’s been a while since I actually cried.
In essence, I said that my time in South Africa has been a true lesson in compassion, not only for the children I volunteer to help, but for the women who work at the care center who I now call friends, the ever-so-patient CCS staff, my new friends who feel a lot more like family, and even for myself. I came to Cape Town knowing that I would leave a different person, but the magnitude of this experience’s effect has really just blindsided me. Life has truly changed for me here, though I can't exactly say just how. I have promised to myself to try and always keep the lessons I have learned here close to my heart.
I have mixed feelings about going home next week. On one hand, my arrival home marks the end of a grand adventure, and my return to a perhaps all-too-familiar life awaits. But on the other, I can’t wait to hug my family and friends. I’m ready to see what kind of person that South Africa has made me into. But for now, I'm looking forward to just soaking it all up for one more week.
Can’t wait to see you all xoxo