Traveling would put me in debt. I’m too busy. It’s so far away; I would miss my family. I don’t know the language or the culture— everything would be so…foreign. And that scares me.
It is kind of scary, isn’t it? The idea of leaving the comfort of our home, our friends, our country, even if just for a few weeks, is unnerving. When presented with the opportunity to travel to South Africa, the butterflies I felt were equal parts excitement and fear. And the fear almost won. But then I realized this; it would be far more terrifying to grow old and feel as though I had never experienced anything remarkable. To look back on my life and wish I had stepped away from the familiar…to regret never having witnessed other ways of being…to only know a single story; now that is terrifying.
Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie says, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” If we are exposed solely to one idea, one way of thinking, how will we ever find diversity if we do not seek it? If we do not open ourselves to the
wide world, the whole world, if we never put ourselves in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, how will we know the many truths that exist? How will we ever realize the beauty and complexity of humanity?
While in South Africa we visited Tsiba Eden campus, a two-year college not unlike SCC. We were able to spend a few days getting to know students there. If there were such a thing as a crash-course in interacting with other cultures, this would be it. And we jumped in up to our necks. They showed us life on their campus. We gardened with them, cooked with them, ate with them, and cleaned with them. We talked and laughed and danced and played games… and cried when we left them. We made friends for life.