It’s been about a month officially since coming back from Botswana. Coming home has been surpisingly easy and culture shock didn’t hit me as much as I originally thought it would. The biggest shock for me was probably how ridiculously excited I was to be with friends again that I have deep relationships with, since that was somehting I wasn’t able to really have in the Bots.
My perspective on many things has changed now too though. Last summer I lived in New York City and coming home made me antsy. I was used to going fast, staying busy, and having mindset of always wanting more. More money, more jobs, more connections. Coming home last summer was hard because the pace of life in Kansas is slower, and less distracted. But coming back from Botswana has been a complete 180. I am overjoyed by the smallest things now and I honestly I think it’s a much healthier mentality. Clean and accessible water, showers, the opportunity I have in school, access to resources, and having my own car are things I was grateful for in theory before leaving, but coming back from Africa I am really starting to understand just how truly grateful I am. I’ve been thinking less about what I want to gain out of life, and more about how I can give of my life. I’ve been less concerned with who I may come across as to other people, and more concerned with how I can use my skills to help other hurting people. There’s a lot of need out there. Like a lot a lot guys. You hear stories of kids in other countries that don’t have access to clean water, or who don’t have school supplies or even the opportnity to go to school. It’s really hard to relate though without seeing it and being there. Being around and interacting with communities where there’s children who don’t go to school and live in a one room house with 10 children is heartbreaking. Holding their hands and being with them face to face, that’s when it’s real, that’s when you take a step back and know something is wrong here. Listening to mothers tell me time and time again their child isn’t getting help in school because there is no special needs teachers and the special needs school is always filled to its capacity is beyond frustrating. Actually forming relationships and becoming friends with these people, that’s the hard part. My friends aren’t getting access to their fundamental needs. My neighbors, my coworkers, my FRIENDS. It’s one thing to see a video with suffering people without hope, but it’s a whole other story when you’ve spent your days with them talking about life, sharing meals, and working with them. Now not everyone I was with was in serious need, and not everyone I met was without hope. Quite the opposite actually, but I’m really starting to grasp this idea of helping those in need. It isn’t about sending money, or supplies, or clothes, or food. It’s about that connection that someone cares, someone sees you, and someone is willing to lay themsleves down to help. Someone is really setting aside their time to figure out the problem, and offer assistance any way they can. That’s my hope. After my short time in Africa I hope I change in this one area the most. That I become less and less focused and consumed with my future, my wants, and my reputation, and a whole lot more concerned with sacrificing my time and energy on what really matters, helping people. In the end, it’s a million times more worth it.
Thanks for reading! I had so much fun being in Africa and miss the friends I made there every day and am still learning from the experiences I had. That’s all I have on this adventure, stay tuned for the next…hah..but actually.