Poem to South Africa

30 06 2011

As their time comes to a close in South Africa Social Entrepreneur Corps interns have written a poem that reflects on their time in country.

Dear South Africa,


You shocked us all

Our assumptions of you

Fell short of your glory


With a beauty that left us enthralled

Soon enough we will walk away

Drenched in memories and hopes of return

Some to homestays with fun mothers who play karaoke,

others to strict grandmothers who have rules taped to the door

Either way, we walk away full


Full of


Dusty Chicken

Magnum Ice Cream

Sour Oranges

Nick Nacks

and last but not least Mopani worms


We leave our footprints in the South African sand

Our fingerprints on the walls of the Baphumalele Bakery

Our words of ostensible knowledge lingering

In the ears of all who so kindly listened 


Two weeks of reading and lecturing left us as naked as a tourist’s first cold winter in Alaska

Shattering before the thick window of reality that stands between us and the people

Allowing us only a peak

To breath only a thin wind of truth that tickles our noses


We walked our first few steps out of the airport

As anxious as a cub on its first hunt

As exhilarated as a blind man after his first blink

Full of assumptions and naiveté

But humbled by the vastness of more


We lived, learned and had what everyone so calls as “a great experience”

Yet, it is only in retrospect that we can truly feel,

Clearly see

And collect ourselves


After leaving pieces of ourselves in every handshake

Every hug

Every word spoken and received

Every bed slept in

Every sister and brother we shared our songs and dances with

We leave our scent

Not to contaminate the air, so filled with the smoke of a history consumed by the breath of a hopeful people,

But to be found again

To so fondly be remembered and accepted

As a kitten is recognized by its mother


I came to give what little I had been allowed to offer

Only to find the greatest thing in the world



Not just any type of people,

But people who gave to me

Gave of themselves

For as long as I asked


They gave me their eyes

And acknowledged my presence

Their ears

And heard me gaggle the greetings I had so proudly thought I said correctly

Their hands

And welcomed me into their homes

Their words

And talked me through their lives, their history, their present


We came to give and have received

We were so wrong to have believed

we could give more than we would receive

We will be forever indebted to you South Africa

We can’t thank you enough for being you

You rock, don’t ever change.



The Ubuntus

SEC with women in Huntington




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