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South Africa 2013 Letter Home
Written by: The Students on IHP Health and Community – Track 2
Dear Friends & Families of IHP,
Without a doubt, the homestay families in South Africa have been beyond generous and welcoming. They have greeted us with open arms and together, we have learned that happiness is a choice; we must be thankful for what we have; and that faith in each other will carry us through difficult times. While eating delicious meals, usually consisting of pap, bean soup, shredded cabbage, fried chicken, and rice, we have been sharing stories about school, friends, and life with our brothers and sisters. With our families, we have been to community wedding and parties, witnessing traditional dancing and mingling with our neighbors! As our time in South Africa comes to an end, we will remember their frequent smiles and their open hearts, because without either, our time in South Africa would have been drastically different. We will be forever grateful to our homestay families.
In our classes and guest lectures we started with an introduction to South Africa through an historical context. We heard from activists from Wilgespruit, historians, and others. Moving forward we covered the South African healthcare system, focusing on public health care. We learned about the legacy of Apartheid, the infrastructural challenges post-1994, key to understanding the current health context.
After moving to Bushbuckridge, we held our classes at the Southern African Wildlife College. Here we had sessions on a variety of issues that affected rural regions, such as water scarcity, rural healthcare access, and land restitution.
Our final classes with Shanti and Alison grappled with the monumental task of wrapping up an entire semester’s worth of knowledge and experience. Our traveling faculty were wonderful throughout the entire program, despite assigning us challenging and engaging work and research. Each and every student gained so much in terms of knowledge and understanding, but this is just the beginning. Learning never stops in life, and this is especially true for IHP students like us.
Today on May 6th, 2013, we are tearfully saying goodbye to each other. Most are going home to the U.S.A., while some are staying in South Africa for a little bit longer. Our journey has lasted 116 days. We have visited three new countries (with the exception of Bianca who also made a quick passport-related stop in Qatar) and countless cities. We have had more than sixteen airplane takeoffs and landings. We have taken planes, trains, boats, busses, motorbikes, and even a cattle truck to get where we’re going. We have seen joy, sickness, friendship, turmoil, and laughter in places we never thought we would. The 33 of us, faculty and fellow included, have learned, grown, and changed together. Though today we have to say goodbye, we know that what has happened here is only the beginning of our relationships, our experiences, and the changes that we will make in the world as individuals and as a family.
All our love,
The Students on IHP Health and Community – Track 2
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