This past week has served not only to better acquaint me with the Augustinian Volunteers program, introduce me to new friends, and nurture ideas of community and spirituality, but has also made me incredibly excited for January 11th, the day I will depart for South Africa. We even got our plane tickets; Mary-Kate, Becca, Meghan and I will be leaving for Durban (via Dubai) on the 11th, and return home December 15th, 2010.
I got to see a video walkthrough of the property where we'll be living, some photos of the people we'll encounter while over there, and hear stories of the amazing adventures some AV alumni have had while abroad.
Though "community" has been drilled into our heads all week, I know that this concept will be extremely important when the four of us are faced with the very harsh realities of life in South Africa. For example, we live in a pretty affluent area called Bothas Hill, which is populated primarily by white South Africans. The people we serve, however, live in the valley in a much poorer, rural setting- and they are almost all Zulu. I think the contrast between the two situations will be extremely hard to deal with. I'm really looking forward to the challenges though, because I signed up for this volunteer program hoping to be faced with just that.
And so, in addition to countless t-shirts, coffee mugs, and even a fancy travel bag, I got to count on a number of other people as new friends. The week was better than I ever could have hoped, though I'm quite exhausted, and I get butterflies every time I think of leaving my current life behind for a new phase thousands of miles away.