I just landed after a 15+ hour plane ride home from South Africa and just couldn’t wait to start writing about how I’m feeling… I haven’t even brushed my teeth or showered yet.
To say I was moved by this trip is an understatement. The feeling I have can only be compared to that of a woman after giving birth and looking down at her baby in her arms and feeling a sense of love that is unexplainable. My feelings for Africa are similar. I truly fell in love with all my heart. Not just with the beauty and history of this country but with the people and what they represent. They are about acceptance, love, singing, dancing, rejoicing and warmth. They hug everyone - people they know and people they don’t know…. and I’m a big hugger. My high school yearbook quote was “A hug is the perfect gift - one size fits all and nobody minds if you exchange it”.
The transformation that has taken place over the last 20 years in South Africa is astounding and should be an inspiration to every other country out there still fighting internally. I’m not one to discuss politics or wars so I’ll leave it at that but what South Africa embodies is absolutely beautiful.
While these students are competing for the World Cup, the slogan for the event was #weallwin. Everyone, the students and the people they are helping, all benefit from this organization. The projects that they have launched are truly award winning. Each of them helping hundreds of thousands of people. There were 34 different countries there celebrating their cultures and competing against each other but throughout the entire three days, they connect without boundaries, they make friends with people of every color, every race, every religion and they have the most incredible time doing it.
When they got everyone settled back into their seat to call the winners, without direction and without hesitation, the South African team, which didn't make it to the finals, gathered at the foot of the stage steps and formed a archway for the winning team to walk through to accept their award. That’s the feeling and the camaraderie that embodies this organization and each one of these students. They cheered, they kissed and they hugged because as they say, WE ALL WIN.
I can’t wait for next years World Cup and for my next visit to this incredible country. Mama Africa…. I will be back, hopefully sooner than later.
You can view the video of the Worldcup Final Ceremony... dancing, singing, cameraderie here.
Places visited while in Johannesberg, South Africa:
Entrance to the Apartheid Museum The bricks represent the
deaths during Apartheid.
Constitution Hill: (Click the images below for more information.