The Postcards that I’ll never Write

So here it is – boom – the last day of my research stay in South Africa. And I haven’t found the time yet to properly reflect upon and write about my workshop, but I will soon.

However, this was not only a research stay, I spent one year of my life in South Africa, in total. Right now I am sitting on the veranda of the commune that for the past three months formed my basis, my home, looking at a bunch of postcards that I bought a week ago. I know now that I will never send them. What could I possibly write?

The experiences I have made go way beyond anything you could ever capture on a postcard. I was here when Nelson Mandela died. I was here during the worst part of the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa. I witnessed the Oscar Pistorius trial on DSTV. I followed the latest xenophobic uprisings that in their structure and line of arguments bare astonishing resemblance to the xenophobic movements in Europe initiated by a group called PEGIDA. I conducted research which led to a multitude of mostly fascinating, sometimes uncomfortable yet intriguing experiences, to the encounter of inspiring people. These experiences you don’t just make in passing, they are of transformative nature and as far as I can grasp it, they ultimately resulted in personal growth. There were breakthroughs, disappointments, insecurities, ideals, connections, friendship and isolation.

I am deeply grateful for these experiences and I’m surely leaving with mixed feelings: happy to go back home, yet melancholically looking back at what has constituted my life in the past two years.

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