So, there are many blog posts I could have written in the past few weeks. I in fact, wrote them perfectly and completely in my head. They were things like:
“Black people don’t camp”…and other race lies we believe that actually have nothing to do with race… based on going camping with the other iThemba staff (most of whom are black, most of whom had never camped, and most of whom loved it and are planning on doing it again, but because they didn’t grow up camping, it just wasn’t on their radar). A prime example of a class/structural thing that we like to say is a race thing- if, for generations, the majority of black people are working minimum wage jobs, do you think they would have tons of time and money (and TRANSPORT) to go out to the mountains, book a campsite, purchase camping supplies and camp?! Leisure activities like camping also run in families. Like- my husband’s family is a camping family. Hardcore. But I have white, middle class friends who have never been camping, because their parents didn’t take them and it’s not top on their list of fun things to do. (** edit: reasons why you should write full blog posts and not paragraphs: By this, I am not dismissing the fact that stats show that it’s mostly white people who camp. What I’m trying to say is there are larger, structural reasons why it’s mostly white people camping, and not because there’s “something about white people” that just loves camping or that black people are born with this innate desire to never camp in their lives. Which is kind of the way we tend to talk about it here in South Africa: White guys can’t dance. Black people don’t camp. End of story.**)
“Isn’t it a cultural thing?” and other things white people like saying to explain stuff we really don’t understand and are actually too lazy to go find out about. Maybe it is a culture thing. Maybe that person is just weird. But instead of idly making comments like that, what if we became actual students of another culture? We say we’re proudly South African rainbow nation and all that stuff, but beyond eating Indian food and the stereotypes we laugh at with Trevor Noah, what do we actually know about _______ culture? Are we really learning from each other? Or are we patting ourselves on the back because of what we already know? This was sparked by some missionaries visiting our church and talking about the process they went through to learn about the culture in the country where they serve. I think all of us should be required to do those things. Things like: attending weddings, funerals and celebrations from another culture with someone from that culture. Learning another language. Finding out what people talk about and in what order. How do people spend their free time? What do they value? Shop where they shop.
Leaving: I prefer the ripping off the bandaid method. There are two kinds of bandaid removers in the world. Here’s the picture: You’re five, and you have a bandaid that’s really, really stuck. Do you slowly wiggled at the corners, easing it off millimeter by millimeter? Or, you were one of those people who just gritted your teeth and yanked it off as fast as possible? We’re leaving in just one week to hike El Camino, and then on to the USA for David to do his masters, and as we’ve been packing up and saying goodbye and being with everyone these past three weeks, I keep wishing I could just yank the bandaid off, get everything over with, and move on. I. Hate. Saying. Goodbye.
But I’m trying to be present, and to be grateful, and I read Daring Greatly and this is a perfect opportunity to practice my “leaning in and embracing the moment and being vulnerable skills” and yeah. Mhmm. Whatever.
So, all that to say– I haven’t written any of those posts, but there they all are for you to think about for a month while David and I hike El Camino de Santiago through Spain. I will probably blog about the hike after the hike, because that’s how I process things, but I don’t think I’ll actually write during it. If I feel divinely inspired, I might change my mind, but that’s the plan right now.
Then, we’ll be back in the States, finding jobs and settling as David starts his Math studies, wooohooo. I’ll still be doing iThemba’s communications even from the States, so I’m sure you’ll still hear stories from Sweetwaters/Mpumuza, but also some of our adventures trying to live in America again and what that looks like! But probably the blog will be quiet for a while as we find our feet, and figure out this new chapter of our lives.
It’s been great traveling with you all over these past two and a half years! Thanks for reading, and hopefully we’ll catch up again in a few months!