As I sit here in the house that I grew up in with snow falling outside, I find myself experiencing a degree of reverse culture shock. I spoke with a friend that asked me what that means and all I could say is, “Everything here is just so big.” I did not even realize how much of a simplified, yet significant and minimalistic, yet magnificent lifestyle. I went from zero to one hundred, real quick! From Cape Town’s gorgeous 90 degree weather, to Detroit’s winter wonderland within a matter of 20 hours of flights.
One of my first days home, I went to Starbucks and after internally judging people who ordered Venti’s (because, really, those cups are huge) I thought I heard people talking with South African accents. Not only South African, but Durban accents, my favorite place in South Africa!! Eventually, I asked my friend if he heard the accent I was hearing and he said yes. So, I asked the couple next to me if they were from Durban. Impressed by an American not assuming they were Australian, they joyfully confirmed! It goes to show how small the world truly is. They were my little angels that brought a little South African sunshine and joy into my heart in the gloom of Detroit.
I think it will take a lifetime to fully reflect and comprehend what the previous 6 months have meant to me and how the lessons learned will play into my future endeavors, but I’ll share a few.
I developed personally, professionally, and spiritually. I failed fast and learned even faster. I built strong friendships and lost some from being away from home. At the end of the day, the victories outweighed the defeats. And is it truly even considered a defeat if you have learned something from it that will make you stronger in the future?
I will always have a heart for South Africa and there’s a peace in my heart knowing that it will not be the end of my journey with this beautiful country.
So what’s next? Well, I’m currently running Global Social Media for JAM! I was offered a Consulting position based in the U.S. as a remote worker. This is an entirely new set of challenges and exciting opportunities. I have been adjusting to not working in an office setting with wonderful co-workers, but in coffee shops and shared work spaces. I am learning how to create boundaries with this schedule as I am a workaholic. There was one day, I worked from 4am-7pm and my family had to bribe me to get off my computer, but working for a company you are passionate about fuels a fire that can’t burn out! I have a lot to learn in this season and that excites me. I don’t think I will ever be able to accept a position or lifestyle that does not challenge me or help me grow as a person after having such an intensive growth period throughout my travels. To know that it is possible to experience so much at such a rapid pace has instilled a standard of living in my heart that I will forever hold valuable. I will never be content in a life of mediocrity. I desire to live life fully every day.
I am working on creative projects in my evenings and spending my weekends immersed in quality family and friend time. I’m learning to love and appreciate the heart of Detroit and explore the entrepreneurial endeavors happening here. I’m finding it’s not so different from Johannesburg. In fact, it kind of makes it all seem so intertwined.
This Christmas, I have a lot to be thankful for. There’s truly nothing I could ask for or desire. A dream that I chased for many years came to fruition and that’s all thanks to Belmont University and the Lumos Scholarship.
If you know me, you know that this isn’t the end. This will not be my peak. It may be the highest point in my life yet, literally on Table Mountain, and metaphorically. I’m walking into a season of beginnings, a season of even more promises to be fulfilled. I fully trust that God has given me vision and connected me with the wonderful people that He led me to across this country to do something more.
I can assure you that with the superpowers and wisdom from Dr. Cornwall, Dr. Turner and Professor Gonzalez I will come out swinging in 2016 with something special inspired by my time in South Africa! So, be on the lookout.
To my family, thank you for your patience, understanding, encouragement and support. I know this was a difficult season. There are many days I wish I could be home to support through the tests and trials, but you remained faithful to God’s call on my life! Thank you for coming out on a 20 hour flight to fetch me and experience everything that I love so much about JAM and Africa.
Thank you to the JAMily. Each and everyone of you is special to me. You all played a very specific and important role in my life. Thank you for inviting me to family meals, taking me out on weekends, and checking in on me. You are my South African family and that will forever remain in my heart!
I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for so evidently putting this call on my heart and clearly leading me to this place. I have experienced a life of fulness and adventure because of You! Each and every step of the way you sent guardian Angels to protect me. Thank you for peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank you for being The Beginning and The End.
I want to thank the Lumos Scholarship and Belmont University for their generosity, support, encouragement, and opportunity to make the lives of students forever changed. I want to thank you for giving myself and all of the Lumos recipients a chance to be global citizens, to be humbled, to encounter cultural differences, to discover other ways to do life, to meet mentors, co-workers, and friends that have open my eyes to things I would have never accessed with a Western mindset.
I am a stronger, more disciplined, self starting, warrior because of this experience. I not only walked away seeing multiple countries and provinces, but I gained wisdom, life long friendships, and a job! There’s so much more that I could say to thank you and share everything that you have done for me, but it will take a lifetime. So instead, I am going to go out and live it! I am going to use my experience as a Lumos Scholarship recipient to be a testimony of the character building, strength, and international mindset of a Lumos Scolarship recipient. I will do all things with excellence to honor you who has invested time, wisdom, and financial support in my life.
Thank you for everything, Lumos. I couldn’t be more privileged and honored to have represented your foundation.
Sincerest Thanks & Appreciation,