by: Kayla Koterwski
Week one of this semester abroad we were asked to sign up to write two blog posts over the course of the semester. The blog posts were set on a weekly basis and I distinctly remember looking through the listed dates and deciding that the last week's blog post would be a fun time for reflection.
A lot has happened since that first week. A LOT. We have traveled all across Namibia, traveled across Southern Africa on various spring break trips, had our fair share of illnesses, experienced various forms of grief whilst a world away from our home and comfort zones, and heard/walked in stories we never could've imagined. Amongst the 19 students and 1 International Resident Advisor participating in the CGEE Southern Africa program this semester, we have seen, loved, and learned more than that first week could have ever allowed us the knowledge to foresee. And now we sit, four months completed and a final day left before our returns state-side or to continue on in further travels, regardless leaving us to say our farewells to this place, this community, and the routines we have come to find a home in.
It is an odd moment of reflection, to state the least. To have finally reached that time we always knew was coming but felt often was a long distance away from whatever present we lived within.
Throughout this semester each of us have been engaged and challenged through conversation with one another and the strangers we have encountered, through speakers and presentations, and through attempts to navigate life, history, and complexity in a foreign context.
This afternoon we spent some time in the beautiful Parliament Gardens reflecting on our time here and preparing for our return home with a "re-entry session". We shared some of our favorite memories and the things we have learned, but also some of the very real fears of returning to a home that has lived and moved on without us throughout the months of our absence. It's a little (maybe a lot) terrifying. After four months of becoming not only close housemates, but family, with twenty strangers and more including CGEE staff, a hefty load of various emotions, some homesickness, and more laughter than one can put into a calculation we are now preparing to say a farewell that comes with a heavy load of uncertainty. It's scary, sad, and exciting stuff.
We leave this place and all the people we have come to love and be loved by not knowing what comes next, but holding close to our hearts the memories of a semester that has significantly impacted each of us in ways we still do not know the full depth of.
As we end this final post, we would like to leave with you all a poem written by one of our students and a co-author of this blog assignment:
From the onset of that first storm
I spent my minutes and hours
Begging for home
Walking numbly through unfamiliar streets
I thought home a sight never to come
A desperate longing for a sight
That was blinding
Binding me to my bruises
For as I spent my hours aching
The stories of this city
Of this young country
Seen far too much grief
Was healing me
Holding me in its dust
Confiding in me its stories
The secrets she must forever hold
In rebuilding bone
This small nation of freedom fighters
Story-livers and storytellers
Has become my new comfort zone
- Kayla Koterwski