Dear South Africa,
You made me fall in love with you. I’m sorry it has to end now, I promise I really didn’t want to. Just so you know it’s me, not you. I know people say that a lot, but I am serious...so serious that my passport had an expiration date for us.
I knew, we knew, that this day was coming. Isn’t it funny that in the beginning all I could think about was that expiration date and heading home because everything you offered was too different, too big, too “not me”. Well look at me now, I see that you are for me. Even though you are still different and big. I realized that I had to adjust to you, not vice versa.
You, South Africa, challenged me, educated me, proved me right and wrong, you showed me there is no safe space or comfort zone, allowed me to feel uncomfortable in order to find myself, made me feel like the fish in a huge pond for once, you schooled me, you showed me languages, cultures, to die for Butter Chicken. You allowed me to meet some beautiful people that I am sad to let go of, you showed me that students here are invested in what they believe in. Rather you mock Western culture, they should actually mock you, you helped me learn about Black historians, you showed me what unity can do, you made me challenge what African American is and/or stands for, you showed me that I may have Ghanaian or Angolan features, you provided me with an experience I would never receive at my home university, you forced me to pronounce people’s names even though you knew I would butcher them, had me read twenty readings per week to understand terms and meanings I never knew, you showed me how to question what has been given to us, to challenge the norms that run through our society, you allowed me to stand on your mountains, swim in your waters, and learn about your history.
I think we have gotten pretty close, yet at the same time not close enough. I wish I could stay and be here with you. But we knew this day was coming, I think you made me fall in love on purpose. I think you wanted me to grow, learn, and develop from this experience. I am glad to say I truly have - traveling to meet you has honestly changed me. The ups and downs we’ve had, has made me stronger, educated, and honored. Even though I have to go, I promise to never forget you.