A great reminder.

When I accepted my term to spend a year in Africa I thought I was going overseas to help people. I knew I would grow and be stretched and that I would learn however my thoughts were still about "helping."

I think especially in North America we've been given a "single story" (i'll explain later) of what Africa looks like. When I told people I was heading to South Africa they immediately thought that I would be living in a hut and travelling long distances to get dirty water. To be honest with you, I have thought that about Africa before. Once I started educating myself and learning others people's stories in Africa it really opened my eyes of the stereotypes that we so often create. It makes me so angry knowing that people truly have that outlook on Africa.

Today in orientation we talked about stereotypes and the damages that this can have on our trip and experience. The speaker asked us to consider what assumptions we had going into our placements and where we acquired that knowledge from. It was life changing to ponder and discuss this. I really am at a loss of words and how as an educated young women I can still fall so short of these assumptions we make; assumptions I made about Africa.

Maybe it's not "my fault." The media plays a huge role, the words articles use are dehumanizing and the pictures we see are always poor Africans who need "my/our help." I've realized that media may have a huge part but it still doesn't make what I did and what others do ok. Ignorance is not bliss: we have a responsibility to treat others as equals and more than not stereotypes leads to discrimination.

Being with so many people around the world this week and hearing Africans talk about their lives and how they live has made me so ashamed and embarrassed that I ever considered they needed "me" and my "saving."

I want to be clear in saying that I cannot and will not save anyone. I will go and serve in South Africa this coming year. I will be open to learn from their culture and learn their way of life. I am excited to love, laugh and cry with these people. I am excited to be used by the Lord in whatever way He wants.

We watched a TED talk that literally has touched me so deep. I encourage you to watch it and share your thoughts with me about it.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true Mads! It’s awesome how much you are learning already! keep posting. i really enjoy hearing about this all :) love you!


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