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Yearly Reflection

The month of December was the most significant month of this year. Not only was I challenged in every aspect of my life, but I also grew the most through these challenges. A true definition of bittersweet. December was filled with finishing the semester strong, dancing, saying goodbye to friends who are studying abroad/moving out of the country, connections and disconnections, and most importantly, a whole lot of personal growth.

Reflection has been huge for me. With it being the new year a lot of people do this annually. However, that seems too short to reflect once a year just because the year is new. Through conversations I have had and books I have read, being connected and checking in with yourself often is one of the most kind things we can do for ourselves. It’s easy to make a New Years Resolution. It’s even easier to not stick with it. Journaling, talking, praying/meditating, reading, and having true and authentic alone time I have found this month are simple keys to reflect on yourself so you can better connect with others.

By doing these things throughout the month of December, I have learned to think in the present moment each day which not only benefits me but the people around me as well. I am thrilled for 2019 because 2018 was an amazing turning point of a year for my career, my interests, my relationships, and myself. I begin my next semester in February with HECUA’s Art for Social Change program. Having time away from Hamline and doing something completely different academically is just what I need right now.

I hope everyone had a safe and outstanding New Year celebration. (:

Savannah

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Comeback Season

The month of November was equivalent to my own personal “comeback season”. Since October was made up of me being in bed sick, I was determined to make November a million times better. Most importantly, I am no longer sick and nearly feel reborn again. Thank goodness! And since I only had two weeks to battle before Thanksgiving break, it was pretty much a motivator to stay focused and get caught up on all of my school work.

1. I have some very exciting accomplishments to share. The first one being that I was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a national leadership honor society. This is the 10th year of ODK being at Hamline. The ceremony was beautifully done by the current ODK board members and I am so honored to be a part of such an amazing community.

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2. I also got to perform as a Washburn High School Black Box alum in a performance Joe Davis put on called The New Renaissance Part III. Myself along with other Black Box alum and current students created a movement/dance piece to one of Joe’s poems. This was truly special because we got to share the stage with other outstanding singers, musicians, dancers and artists. (The picture below is a little blurry.)

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3. While this is not an officially completed accomplishment, I have decided to start my own personal lifestyle blog in 2019. Doing my monthly blog posts for Concord and mixing my passion for writing, I am very excited to put this goal into action. In it will include traveling, health and wellness, food, music, inspiration and each month I will be highlighting a different local artist. I am looking forward to this because it could build my personal writing portfolio when I start applying for jobs and maybe I could end up making a small career out of this. I have also thought about learning more about photography and adding that to my skills and expertise along the way.

4. I have some travel plans that are in the works currently! Both in the US and internationally. So stay tuned for Savannah’s adventure updates. (:

Overall, I have been thinking a lot about the gratitude I have for people and things in my life recently and how I am showing it through actions and words. I think it is important, especially during this time of the year, to slow down and really check yourself. What am I grateful for? How have I showed that gratitude? What is one thing I can do to be a better me? Just some nice reflection during this crazy busy season.

That is all for now! I am focusing on doing well and pushing through the last few weeks of this semester. Then only three more semesters left until I graduate. Where does the time go?

Savannah

The October Blues

I wish I could say this month has been exciting and eventful but unfortunately it has been an unfortunate series of events. Starting the beginning of this month I got incredibly ill. This lasted three straight weeks and caused me to miss my classes, my two jobs, and my internship. After three doctors visits in this time frame, I tested positive with mono. Fortunately, I knew what was wrong with me. Unfortunately, this played a huge and negative impact on every aspect of my life this month.

Although I have been in my bed the majority of the month of October, there were a few upsides to this month. I had a dance performance at my school’s Lip Sync Competition for Homecoming Week. I also got asked to do another dance/movement performance for an event at the Southern Theater at the end of November. I went to see Passenger in concert at First Avenue. The best part of this month is that I am FINALLY feeling better! I truly feel like I died and was reborn in a new life. It is crazy how much we take advantage of our health and daily abilities until we get sick and can’t use the functions of our bodies the exact same. So, I am very thankful to be healthy again.

The end of October has been a month of catching up on school work, internship hours and returning back to work. October definitely was not my month, but hopefully I will end the year in November and December on a positive and HEALTHY note. (:

Savannah

Fast Pace Start

Already a month into this semester and not only has it flown by, it has been very challenging. There was not any sort of transition from summer to the fall, I just began at a fast pace. However, it is keeping me on my toes and I have accomplished so much.

My classes are going really well. For once, I love all of them and feel confident in the work I am putting in to them. Right now, it feels like I am at midterms considering my work load. After this week it will die down a bit before midterms actually happen in a month.

My internship at the Immigration Law Center of Minnesota is going so well. I am learning about grant writing and helping take on the Development side of the office. It is good for me to get experience in a field I am interested and not only see what I like from it but also what I don’t like. Learning both sides is very important.

My event planning job on campus is also going great. I have had two events this month, a hypnotist and a musical artist, and the turnout was higher than I anticipated. At the hypnotist event, there was an incident where a guy who was hypnotized on stage ran off and out the building. So that caused so chaos… Turns out he snapped out of hypnosis on the stage and had no idea what to do besides leave the building. What a night.

I am already ready for Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break, but who isn’t at this point? A big and warm hello to everyone at Concord! I miss you all and miss seeing you every week.

Savannah

That’s a Wrap Summer ‘18

As I start classes tomorrow, I think about the last three months and all of the amazing experiences that came with it. Summer of 2018 was one to remember and I hope this school year is only the same.

June

The month of June began with a weekend up in Lutsen, MN with some of my closest friends at Cathedral of the Pines, the summer camp I grew up going to. When I came back from the weekend away, I began my position as the Concord Foundation Mini Intern and continued working at Stewart’s restaurant. By the end of the month, I did a weekend trip to Chicago with my boyfriend, Neo.

July

In the beginning of this month, I traveled to Europe to visit my sister who was teaching in Spain for 6 weeks. We met each other in London for about 3-4 days. The hostel we stayed in was amazing and we met the most wonderful people during our stay. It was right across the street from Hyde Park. We spent our time going to cafés, taking the bus and tube everywhere, visiting Buckingham Palace, Big Ben (which was under construction) and Chinatown. We also visited a numerous amount of different neighborhoods. My favorite was Camden and spending half the day at the town market. We also went to a hip hop/spoken word show and I can’t even begin to explain how moved I was by it. On average, we walked about 10-12 miles a day. So you could say we explored the city pretty decently.

After London, we spent another 3-4 days in Amsterdam. I have always heard about how beautiful this city is, but it is one of those places you have to go and see for yourself. We wandered by and through the canals, ate amazing restaurants (my favorite was an all avocado menu), wandered Vondelpark, and we even went to a Questlove show. The funny part about that is that the doors didn’t open until midnight and we didn’t get home until close to 4AM. The nightlife was an adjustment compared to our early nights here in the states. Only a week of adventure but well spent and well entertained.

I spent the rest of the month working and I visited friends at Madison the last weekend of July as well.

August

This month was filled with many different emotions. Even though August flew by ridiculously fast, a lot of this transpired. The first couple of weeks were difficult because my grandfather passed away. He had been battling cancer for about 8 years and they originally gave him 2 months to live. He truly was a living miracle for 8 years. My Dida loved life more than anyone I know, so he truly was not ready to leave this beautiful Earth. I spent a few days in Michigan with my family and for the funeral. It was unbelievable to me how a sorrowful event turned out to be the most beautiful, peaceful and reliving thing I have ever seen, and how people, deceased or alive, can bring so many people together. It gives me peace to know he is no longer in pain and in a better place.

When I returned, I had my last week at Concord. I wanted to take this month here and thank EVERYONE at Concord for making my summer experience there so special. I learned so much about myself, what I want to do, and how I will get there. It warms my heart to know I have an amazing community just a call, email or drive away. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Concord.

I begin classes tomorrow and I still can’t believe it. This summer went by the quickest I have ever experienced. Although it is over, I am honestly really looking forward to this school year. Just as an update, I have declared as a double major in Communications and Social Justice and am hoping to pursue Law School for Immigration Law. This is something that gives me so much energy and passion to learn about and to grow in knowledge and privilege to help people. Aside from my full time class schedule, I got an internship at the Immigration Law Center of Minnesota for this semester. I also am working on campus with a leadership position as the Late Night Event Programmer where I will be hiring musical artists to come perform at HU. And to keep my schedule even more busy, I am continuing to work at Stewart’s and am thinking about starting a Hip Hop Dance Group at Hamline. That’s a wrap from me and from summer 2018!Savannah

Hectically Happy

Hello!

This past month has been absolutely insane but I have never been happier. Not only was it finals/the end of the semester, but it was also my birthday month, time to move out of my old house and into a new one, started a new job, had a dance performance, and had a few weekends out of town. So, entering June I am hoping that this month is a little bit less hectic and I can finally turn to my somewhat structured summer schedule.

Academically, my GPA is the best it has been. I am not one of those people to feel proud of myself over my grades and GPA, but I feel like I worked really hard this semester to excel in my grades with all of the other commotion I had going on. I am also very excited for this upcoming Spring to do my instate study abroad program with HECUA. For this program I will be interning at Washburn, my high school’s social justice theater company. This is something I was apart of all 4 years and now I am thrilled to give back. I will also be taking classes at Pillsbury House Theater. This will be a great opportunity for me to do work outside of Hamline campus and switch it up.

One thing I am very excited for this summer is my opportunity to do a little bit of traveling in London and Amsterdam. I will leave in July and meet my sister there, as she is already in Europe for her graduate program. This will definitely be a busy summer, but nothing overwhelming and only good things to come.

Last but not least, I can not wait to be interning at Concord this summer! It has been a while since I saw most of you so I am looking forward to rebuilding relationships and creating new ones. See everyone at Concord this week! (:

-Savannah

Half Way Through the Finish Line

Can you already believe it’s May?! I had to do a double take at my calendar when I looked at it this morning. Already so much has changed in the last month and I anticipate a lot more change to come over the next few months.

I have two more weeks left of the school year, two weeks until my birthday and two more weeks until I am halfway through the finish line of college. They did tell me in August of 2016 that my college years would speed by. They were completely right.

I do have big summer plans coming up! The search for a summer internship is finally over and I am happy to say that I will be doing a part time internship at Concord! I am incredibly excited for this opportunity and experience. I also can not wait to work with and see everyone at Concord this summer. Along with that, I will be working part time at the restaurant Stewart’s I started in January. Not only will I be working a lot, I am also attempting to fit in some time to travel as well. So stay turned for my traveling adventures. (:

In terms of next school year, I will be taking next spring to do an in state study abroad program through HECUA’s Art for Social Change program in Minneapolis. I really wanted to go abroad this spring internationally, but because of the program options and budget, I think this is the best option for me and I could not be more grateful and excited. Also, some fun news, I am excited to announce that I have officially declared my Communications and Social Justice Majors with a concentration in Youth Activism and Art for Social Change!

I can’t wait to see you all at Concord in a few weeks! (:

-Savannah

Time Flies

Hello everyone!

As I sit here and reflect on this past month, it is unbelievable to me that the school year is almost over and I am almost half way done with my undergrad college experience. It feels like just yesterday I was soaking up the South African sun and now I feel like the Minnesota summer sun is inching to approach. Besides a lot of reminiscing and wishing for warming weather, this month was hectic, as most school months are, and filled with great opportunities.

Last month I mentioned that the Africa Jam fundraiser would be happening, and so it did. I performed a dance piece and engaged with so many people who care about this organization as much as I do. This was the high of my spring break. Unlike many other people, I did not have a spring break in paradise. In fact, I stayed in St. Paul, worked and wished for at least 50 degree weather. I also spent a lot of time looking for summer internships in my field of study. (So, if you know anyone that is looking for a summer communications/social media/social justice/ intern, I’m your gal.)

In the next month in half before school ends, I will be focusing on finding an internship, maintaining my grades and planning my summer trips at the same time. This post is not very long because I have spent the majority of March doing homework, so there is not much to share.

A special hello to everyone at Concord! I hope you all are doing well and that you are staying warm during this cold spring.

-Savannah

A Little Life Update

Although it has been less than a month since I have been back in school, it has been incredibly busy and hectic. However, it has been busy with all good things happening in my life! And since I’ve been back from South Africa, I have been thinking about it every single day and am trying my best to go back in January of 2020. Let’s hope all works out. There is an Africa Jam party/fundraiser (Africa Jam being the summer camp/non-profit I worked with in January) on March 22nd at the Aster Cafe for anyone that would like to attend. There will be live music, a DJ playlist with South African tunes, door prizes, silent auction, plus I will be dancing! 100% of ticket sales will be used to fund the Africa Jam programs in South Africa. $25 pre sale/$30 at the door. That is my little promotion for that event for those who might be interested!

The past two weeks have kept me incredibly busy by doing a Sexual Assault Advocate training with SOS Ramsey County. I chose to not do the full 40 hour training and certification because it would have clashed with my work schedule and I was not ready to take that much on. I did complete the 20 hour training which gave me credit for a class I am taking called Transforming a Rape Culture. Although I did not receive the full extensive training, I feel so much more enlightened and educated about sexual assault, rape and rape culture. I went into this training thinking I knew a lot about this topic and boy, was I wrong. This experience is one I will hold on to as I walk through the rest of my life, especially as a female. It inspired me to finish the training at a time when I can take that work on and potentially volunteer with SOS.

I started two new jobs this month. One of them is at a restaurant called Stewart’s in St. Paul. The other is on campus working in Anderson Center as a front desk/switch board operator. I also just found out today that I got the Hamline University Programming Board-Late Night Programmer (music focus) position for next year. I am so grateful for all of these amazing opportunities and am incredibly excited to put my hard work into action.

Next year, I was planning on studying abroad during spring of 2019. After many conversations, deadlines and realizations, I decided that I will instead be staying here and not study abroad until maybe summer of 2019. I have many reasons for doing this, but the two biggest reasons are because of finances and the programs I looked at do not offer what I am studying, along with my concentrations, in the places I would have liked to go. Instead, I am applying for the Art for Social Change program through HECUA, which is a Twin Cities based study abroad organization. I will know more officially if I am doing this for my spring semester towards April or May after the application processes. I am so excited and feel really good about this decision.

Those are all of the updates I have for you all for this month! I would like to say hello to my friends at Concord and that I hope you all are doing well. Until next month. (:

-Savannah

 

Born and Raised in Minnesota. Found Myself in South Africa.

What an eventful month it has been. I spent half the month in South Africa so I thought it would be suitable to post my journal entries that I wrote while I was away. I used these journal entries for the internship I did for this trip. I spent about 3 weeks in South Africa working at a summer youth camp and also traveling. With these journal entires you can see a little more of a glimpse on what I did and experienced. I also added a few pictures to give you some visuals. Enjoy!

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December 31st, 2017

What a day it has been and it is not even over because we have been traveling for 36 hours straight. So, December 31st and January 1st are going to be like one full, long day. I woke up at 4:00 AM to get to the MSP airport at 5:00 AM. Leading up to this point, traveling to South Africa did not feel real. We took our connecting flight from MSP to D.C. where we had a layover for 6 hours. The time was filled with eating airport food, watching movies, stretching and mentally preparing for the next two flights we were going to take on. From D.C. we are traveling to Senegal, which is about 8 hours, to refuel. From Senegal we will be traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa which is another 8 hours long. From Johannesburg we will travel to our final destination, Cape Town, South Africa.

I have not been fortunate enough to have traveled out of the country this far in my life. I am really taking a leap, but I could not be more ready for it. During this long plane ride, I have had a lot of time to prep mentally and spiritually for this trip. The best thing I could have done to prep is to have no expectations and to feel incredibly open. This trip could not have come at a better time.

January 1st, 2018

Finally to Cape Town! The first thing I noticed when we got here is how bad of a drought they are in. The flight attendants made an announcement on the plane letting people know how bad the water shortage is. There were posters all over the airport reminding people to take a two minute or less shower and to really watch their water intake. This was news to me. I was not aware of this circumstance until we got there.

Several of our South African friends met us and greeted us at the airport. From there we took a bus to the Strand Tower Hotel very late at night. Because of the time differences and traveling on an airplane for about two days, December 31st and January 1st mixed together. We immediately went to bed when we got to the hotel.

January 2nd, 2018

Today could easily be placed as the best day of my life. We woke up around 7:00 AM and went down to the hotel breakfast. After breakfast, we had a meeting/ice breaker to get to know everyone on the trip. We then went on our journey to visit the 4 different townships that Africa Jam does work in. The first one, Ottery, were flats that were government owned. These flats create a lot of tension between different gangs in the community. Gangsterism and poverty are the 2 biggest things that people in the townships of Cape Town deal with. We then departed to Phumlani, the second township, which is where we met more people. We got out and walked around Phumlani and talked with people there. This township is considered an informal settlement. This means that the homes and structures were hand made by the people. We went to a church in Lotus River which is where Africa Jam began with after school programs. Several people involved with Africa Jam live here. We heard from people like Ingrid, Conway and Celine who told us their stories and their involvement with Africa Jam.

From here, we went to this food place called Gatsby’s. We ate chicken sandwiches with fries mixed in along with a side of samosas. It was so delicious and a very well known food place in Cape Town. After a quick food break, our final destination was Khayelitsha. This is a very powerful place. Not only does it stretch for miles but it has so many stories and some of the warmest hearts of people I have ever met. We went to the top of this lookout that overlooks the township. Throughout our journeys through the townships we had Loyiso with us leading the way. At the top of this lookout, Loyiso told us his story about how his father cut off his pinky and buried it in the ground next to the grave of his ancestors because that resembles how they will look after him. He also explained to us how homes are built and established in Khayelitsha and what that process is like. Driving through Khayelitsha had to have been one of the most memorable moments of my life. We visited the Africa Jam Centre. Of the 4 townships, this is the only one with a developed youth centre. We walked inside and the kids, a large range of ages, were singing in dancing. We watched as their audience, unsure what would happen next. They then embraced us and got us to join in song and dance.

“I love you. You love me. This is the way it should be. God loves you. I love you. This is the way it should be. We’re gonna dance together, dance together. This is the way it should be.”

Instantly, I felt happiness that I have never experienced and that filled my cup enough to last me the rest of my life. They performed dance and singing pieces for us. I have never seen such natural talent from young kids. Some of the kids took us on tours of their homes nearby. One thing that I found most fascinating was the amount of people that asked me what I thought South Africa looked like before I got there. They asked me if I thought there were going to be lions and elephants roaming around or if I thought it was going to be as developed as it is. That was probably the most asked question I received on the trip. After spending time with everyone in Khayelitsha, we said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel.

For dinner, we went to this traditional African style restaurant called Gold. As we walked in, there were 2 drummers on stage leading the rest of the guests in a drumming lesson. Because we walked in late we could not participate, but watching it fulfilled the experience. They served a 5 course meal of different traditional style foods with different glasses of wine. While we ate and conversed we were also watching traditional African style drumming and dancing on the stage in front. At one point, I was swept off my feet and brought on stage for a mini dance lesson and busted some moves in front of everyone at the restaurant. I truly was living my happiest life.

January 3rd, 2018

Today, we had some free time to visit Camps Bay. Unfortunately, it took 45 minutes to get there because the traffic was rough. Fortunately, it was the most beautiful ride. From there we went to Muizenberg beach and spent some time relaxing and eating a lot of fish and chips. The public bathroom was unlike any public restroom I have experienced. The toilet paper was outside of the stall, so you had to take a little bit with you inside. After the beach we were on our way to Simon’s Town which is where Africa Jam camp is. We pulled up to camp which is on a mountain that overlooks an ocean. My mouth dropped when I got off the bus and looked around. After we brought up our luggage we were able to meet more of the Africa Jam staff. After settling in, we went through the night prepping for campers coming in the morning.

January 4th, 2018

A long but beautiful day filled with new friendships and a lot of fun energy. We began this morning very early in prep for the kids coming to camp. They came around 10 AM and trickled in bus by bus from different communities. I have been going up to summer camp since I was in 3rd grade and I have never had so much fun on the first day of camp ever. We all were assigned roles for the week and my role was Fun Squad. This essentially means that I help come up with games and activities for the campers. Another thing to point out is that these campers are in high school. As campers arrived I led some games for everyone to do. I always believe that one needs to get out of their comfort zone in order to fully grow as an individual. It has been a while since I was last truly out of my comfort zone and felt good about it in the sense where it helps me grow as a person. I finally have been able to do something different and unlike anything I have done before with a group of brand new people. Being out of my comfort zone here made me a happier and better person. Fun Squad ran games in between lunch, dinner, the church service, and the special nightly event.

The church service was unlike any I have been to in my life. The speaker for the night was a professional motivational speaker and separately a pastor. He said a lot of wise and relatable things that I was able to take with me. He said things such as, God won’t let us move forward and progress because we still haven’t learned our lesson from our mistakes we made. He also said how there is no such thing as failure. It is only success or learning. This speaker had a great mix of religion, spirituality and motivation in his message. I felt that religious or not you could find a way to relate to the things he was saying. The rest of night consisted with the Fun Squad running a night time entertainment lip sync competition. I closed the night by performing a dance routine. It is really easy to feel loved and at home here. I ended the night by playing cards with some of the staff members and went to watch the stars. I already feel incredibly sentimental because I realized in just a few days I will have to say goodbye to people that I already consider family and close to my heart. It was really special watching the stars in the southern hemisphere and seeing 4 shooting stars on January 4th. There is nothing like what I experienced today.

January 5th, 2018

Today was quite the day. A lot of activity and a lot of new friendships. This morning, fun squad continued to run some games for the campers. After games was choices which included basketball, swimming, arts and crafts, music, soccer and dance. Last second they asked me to run the dance part of the activities. Luckily, I had something prepared and only a few campers showed up so it wasn’t a huge deal. But they really enjoyed it! After this I jumped in the pool and talked with Ellen, the founder of Africa Jam. She told me all about the creation of Africa Jam and her story about living in South Africa. Her stories were fascinating. She talked about what it was like marrying a black man from a township and what people thought about that, what it was like moving back to Minnesota, how Africa Jam continues today and her love and passion for summer camp and South Africa. My brother once told me that mentors are people that appear in your life when you need it the most. After talking to Ellen, I feel that way. She studied communications and peace studies in college, which now is essentially social justice. She also dances and is so brilliant as a white women in a space where it may seem irregular to be physically present in. I asked about how Africa Jam started, her college and traveling experiences, race and so many other things. She is such a wonderful women and I feel honored to know her.

The rest of the day went as normal for a regular Africa Jam day. I made some friends with some of the campers. Amy, Joseph, Caleb, Zoë, Lilith, Michael and others. All about 16 years young and so bright. Definitely could see them as the leaders of Africa Jam one day. This is going to be really hard to say goodbye to them in a few days. Tonight was the leaders entertainment. We all prepared something almost as a talent show for the campers. I danced, as I did last night, and it was really wonderful. I had so many South Africans come up to me and say they had never seen anyone dance like me before. What a compliment that was, especially because I have been thinking how all of them are more amazing dancers than I am. We ended the night by hanging out upstairs where all the leaders do. The people here truly are something special.

***One thing that is important to point out is how the drought played an input at camp. In order for the water for the camp to be turned on, the owners had to walk up a part of the mountain to turn it on and off. Because of this and because of how bad the water shortage is, we only had the water on for about 3-5 hours a day. This required us to fill up buckets and containers of water while it was on and to take about a minute or two long shower. Along with this, we could not wash our hands or flush the toilets until the following mornings so they bought us hand sanitizer to use before meals. Cape Town is predicted to be the first major city to run completely out of water.

January 6th, 2018

Today was the most exhausting day we have had so far. After breakfast and devos, fun squad ran more games. From here, there was a South African choreographer that came in to teach everyone choreo. This was so fun. I have never danced this much in a small amount of time in my life. Earlier, one of the leaders came up to me asking if one of the girls, Aleehah, could dance with me for the campers entertainment night. I said of course and her me and another camper, Amy, spent parts of the rest of the day coming up with a routine. These girls are phenomenal. Not only are they talented, but they are beautiful, smart, brave and man, can they dance. I also spent time dancing with Jayden, one of the leaders. He too is absolutely amazing.

Tonight was a special dinner where the leaders dress up nicely to serve the campers. It is tradition every year that they sing the song “Lean on Me” before we serve the meal. After this was the church service. The night ended with Campers entertainment. All the campers did absolutely phenomenal. I haven’t been so proud of kids and their talents. Amy and Aleehah did so well. The end of the night inched up and I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I went into the chapel with three of the South African band members and the 2 Germans that were volunteering at the camp. We had the most amazing conversations about politics in the US, South Africa and Germany. I learned so much from them tonight. It isn’t that often that 3 cultures can gather together in a safe space and discuss such topics.

January 7th, 2018

Today was incredible. And even that is an understatement. It was the last full day at camp. I can not believe how fast these few days have gone by. Ellen Ruiters gave the most amazing devotion I have ever heard. It was all about how Africa Jam started and how it all starts with the roots. She said she always wears a tree every day to remember her roots. She then passed out the tree of life charm for everyone to have. This gave a lot of inspiration to all of the kids. She got the staff of Africa Jam who started out as campers to come up and speak about what the campers can do to keep themselves going. A lot of tears and a lot of beautiful voices spoke. A friend of mine talked to me about having the fear of missing out and wanting to not regret anything about this trip. This trip is very different for everyone and it is easy to experience such love and wonderful energy and fear not being able to take it all in. I think for the first time, I have been able to truly live in the moment and take everything in. We, Fun Squad, went and led the last day of games for the campers. We taught them Name that Tune, a game we, Minnesotans, play up at our summer camp in Lutsen, Minnesota. After that, two Double Dutch guys came to teach the kids how to double dutch. We had a lot of free time throughout today. At lunch we got a whole beat going on the tables and got everyone to have a dance and move their bodies based off the beat. I am supposed to be here. I honestly have never felt more welcomed and more like myself. Everyone here is unapologetically outgoing, carefree and themselves. How do you take something like that home when that is not the roots of where it lives?

After the final church service was a candle lit service. There was a large circle of chairs and in the center were candles waiting to be lit in a dark room. One by one, anyone was invited to approach the candles, light one, and talk about what Africa Jam means to them. We are not given opportunities often where we can be vulnerable and reflect in a space where we share similar values with our surrounding people. It was beautiful how intimate the space felt in a room full of 150 people.

January 8th, 2018

So I don’t know how to explain how happy I am. Today was the day we had to say goodbye to everyone. This was not easy and there were a lot of tears. What is hard with  some of these kids is that I actually won’t see them again and it is even more difficult to explain that to them. We wove goodbye on the road as each bus drove away while the kids sang, danced and wove back. We gathered all of our things and were on our way to the Boulders Beach where all the penguins are. After spending some time there we were on our way to Franschhoek. This is the nicest place I have ever stayed in my entire life. The hospitality was way higher than 5 stars and everyone is so genuinely nice. It is going to make Minnesota Nice look like incredibly passive aggressive when we come home. We got to the place we are staying at and they greeted us with glasses of champagne and appetizers. Complimentary. After we got situated we went down to the pool for a couple hours and ordered drinks and food. We then decided to go into town for dinner. We ate at this Italian restaurant and hung out around town for the rest of the night.

It was quite the transition coming from an area where the water shortage is fairly severe and not being able to wash our hands after going to the bathroom to swimming in a clean pool and having the Honeymoon Suite shared with only two people. Although this was an amazing part of the trip and a beautiful part of South Africa’s wine country to experience, it is safe to say that we all would not have minded staying at camp and not having luxuries if that meant being with the campers longer. It was something we all sat down and discussed/reflected on.

January 9th, 2018

I had the most luxuries and superb slumber of my life because it was longer than 4 hours. A group of us went to a wine tasting. I learned so much about South African wine and it seriously inspired me to own a vineyard in South Africa. I can dream. My favorite wine was Dieu Donné. It smelled/tasted like vanilla and butterscotch. We all went and laid at the pool for hours afterwards. We then had a little devotion to decompress and recap camp. When we wanted to speak, we grabbed a candle from the center to keep and spoke about our experiences thus far and how camp went for us. This was definitely needed for all of us. The restaurant we ate at tonight was so delicious. It was in a cave that overlooked a still and beautiful valley. It was a three course meal and I had quail. I never thought I would ever try quail.

January 10th, 2018

One of my friends and I woke up at 6 AM for a couples massage. They two ladies were so nice who did them. They picked us up from our hotel and drove us through this valley to this super nice building that looked like a house. It looked like something you would see out of a movie. After our massage we packed up and got breakfast. We didn’t have to leave our hotel until 1 so we just hung out by the pool. Me, noah, Ellie and Izzy walked to the Italian restaurant we ate at the other night to get some food because it was so good. Then we drove to Aquila Game Reserve for a nights stay and a safari ride. Immediately once we got there we turned around and went straight to the safari. It was so amazing.

January 11th, 2018

This morning we laid out at the pool for a long time before we left for Cape Town. It was really something to see because all of the wildlife, elephants, rhinos, hippos, were to the right of the place we were staying at. I have never seen anything like it. We left at 3 to get back to Cape Town. We got situated and went out to dinner. It was a short night and we all went to bed early because of being exhausted from being in the sun all day.

January 12th, 2018

We started off this morning going to Robben Island for a tour about the prison that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on for 18 years. This was such a interesting experience because I have already done prior research and reading for this trip, so hearing these things was really amazing, especially coming from a gentlemen who was in the ANC and actually was imprisoned with Mandela. At one point, he asked for us to turn off the flash on our cameras because his eyes got so bad from working outside in the sun for hours. It was most fascinating to hear his personal stories and when he started giving tours in 2002. The prison officially closed in 1997, I believe. Although the tour was incredibly short, it was still remarkable to be able to walk around and learn history about the island.

After the tour we walked around the waterfront and got lunch and shopped. A few of us almost got lost finding our way back to the hotel. We took the Red Bus Tour around for a little bit. You can put headphones in and listen to the history of Cape Town playing around you. It goes for about 2 hours if you want to do the full loop around. We grabbed two more of our friends from the hotel and went to Table Mountain. Table Mountain is one of the world’s 7 wonders. I did not know this information until we arrived. They say this mountain has been around 7x longer than Mount Everest.  We took the cable car up the mountain and it was absolutely beautiful but also scary because the ground rotates in a circle so you can see the full view going up. The view at the top was absolutely breathtaking. I have never seen anything like it. A bunch of the Africa Jam staff met us at the hotel bar and so we all went out to eat with them. More people met up with us and we went out dancing after. A long but adventurous day.

January 13th, 2018

We began our morning by going to Khayelitsha to visit and hang out with the campers from there at the Africa Jam Centre. It was so much fun and so sad to say goodbye. They taught us a dance and a song in Xhosa. What’s super cool about this trip is the mix of languages and accents. I’ve never been this immersed in an environment where everyone speaks more than one language. After this we went back to the hotel to grab lunch and stopped at the market. Some of us went to another winery outside of town. We had a wine tasting. From there we drove the Chapman’s Peak Drive. It is about a 45 minute drive alongside the ocean and we stopped at some of the places along the way. Just when I think this trip doesn’t get any better, it does.
January 14th, 2018

Several people went back to Camp’s Bay but instead I wandered around town by our hotel. After that we all got ready to go to the last dinner with every Africa jam staff and all of us Americans. It’s a tradition to get together on the last night. We played crazy 8’s, danced and sang together. We all gathered inside for a tradition that is done every year. We went in and sang the American national anthem while the South Africans sang there national anthem. We all prayed together and that’s when tears began. A really important Vikings game was on, one that would make or break the Vikings getting a step closer to the Super Bowl, but in South Africa is started at midnight. A bunch of the South Africans came back to the hotel and watched the game with us. A successful victory for the Vikings that night.

January 15th, 2018

Here we are. The last few hours in Cape Town. Where did time go? We all said our final goodbyes and they were too fast because none of us wanted to do it. But we are now on our way back to reality. To Minnesota. I’m ready to bring my best self that I’ve been here in South Africa back to Minnesota. We had to go through all sorts of security with flying back into the US. It was pretty ridiculous honestly. In 36 hours and 5 flights later we will be back home. But for now I am currently at the airport wondering how life will be when I get back. Thank you South Africa.