Marina, a massage therapist and mother of two, would like to be more involved in helping others—more than anything, she wants to learn how to open her heart. It's been a lifelong dream of Marina's to go to South Africa...to step out of her comfort zone, broaden her horizons and truly experience the world beyond her backyard.
In reading Cry, the Beloved Country, Marina saw so many things that strongly resemble America's heritage. She feels South Africa has a strong and unique story to tell, one that people in our nation can learn from.
Marina has never traveled outside of the U.S. (except for a trip to Mexico as a small child) and is looking forward to the chance to be a traveler and learn about another culture.
Marina loved reading Cry, the Beloved Country and says while reading it, she saw so many things that moved her. Growing up in a biracial family, with both the perspective of her Mexican mother and Caucasian father, Marina has a unique take on race—she has lived with the racial issues in the U.S. her whole life. As she finished the novel, she could most relate to Kumalo's heartache and Jarvis' forgiveness.
For Marina, the heart of the story is that we are all the same: "I know and understand that humanity needs to change. I feel this so strongly, I believe it can be one person at a time."
Words can't even express how to feel about this trip. As I write, I am flying above Africa. It is so beautiful. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the country and its people...and to come back to my family and friends with the most amazing memories from the biggest adventure of my life.
The beauty here in South Africa is unlike anything I've ever seen before. The story that this country has to tell is one we all need to know. The longer I'm here, the more the story unfolds—always a new storyteller continuing to educate me where another has left off.
The informal housing units in Soweto are so different. They are rickety shacks made from things people find: What would it be like to build my house this way? As urine runs along the roads, children play in the street barefoot with almost no clothes on...and in some cases completely naked. For me personally, this is an awakening. I've never dreamed what I'm seeing existed in this world—there are two extremes to the way people live in this country. Now I know that's the way the world really is.
At the Apartheid museum, I could feel the pain that was representative of not just one person, but so many thousands of people across South Africa. I could feel their pain. So many who have been hurt, bled and died because of the pride and greed of others who felt they had some sort of right to inflict torture on innocent human beings. I'm overcome by the injustice of it all.
Today, I saw a little of the story of South Africa. It is the story of a nation building from the ground up—a nation with hope for the children that will someday lead it.
Being on top of Kumalo's Mountain was inspiring. There was such a peaceful feeling standing there, looking over the Carisbrooke School. Being on top of the mountain, I thought a lot of Cry, the Beloved Country. Kumalo's Mountain was such a significant part of the book—I thought of Kumalo at the end and his courage. I thought of Jarvis's grandson—the light shining in the darkness. The boy represented hope—a dying of the old yet a birth to a new beginning. I loved this reference to the light because it could be applied to our own personal lives, too.
The Indian Ocean was something exotic, new and adventurous! I knew that I wanted to plunge myself fully into the water—and that's exactly what I did! The water was surprisingly warm and beautiful. I was surprised when I got stung by a jellyfish, but it only added to the adventure.
When we were on Robben Island, we toured the prison where Nelson Mandela and many others were imprisoned for many, many years. We had the privilege of meeting a man named Indres, who had also been imprisoned for ten years. He was our guide and helped paint a mental picture to help us see what it would actually have felt like. What impressed me the most was that these men thought they would literally die in prison—freedom was worth dying for. Indres told me that while most countries are built from the top down, South Africa was built from the bottom up. It fascinated me.
Before the South African trip, I dreamed of Table Mountain. I had never seen it before and had no idea we would be going there. As we sat on top of this majestic mountain there was an instant recognition for me, like déjà vu. Strange as it may sound, I felt a deep and powerful connection to Table Mountain, it felt almost as if the mountain had been waiting for me. Being so high above, overlooking South Africa, seeing Robben Island in the distance was a reminder of what this country has been through and what humanity needs do to bring love to the world!
Kariega and Shamwari were such a neat experience. They call the area "the bush." We drove around in these huge jeeps with our guides showing us all the wild animals. Early in the morning I went on a riverboat tour. We saw animals on the banks of the river and sat and listened to all the exotic sounds of an Africa morning. I soaked it all in. By the time we got back all of us felt energized and excited. It was something else.
The concert was a blast! The music and the crowd were phenomenal. It made me want to get up and dance—which is exactly what we did. There was such a variety of artists. The singers chanted 46664—Nelson Mandela's prison number. I was particularly thrilled to see Beyonce, the Eurythmics, and of course, my favorite...BONO! I have always loved music and big crowds so this definitely put me in a jiving mood! It was one of the many, many highlights of the trip.
As we head home I can't help but feel sadness. I'm of course excited to see my family, but I just experienced something huge—South Africa! Before I came, I wanted to know the story of South Africa. This is what I've learned:
- South Africa is the story of people in oppression fighting to rise above.
- It's the story of cruelty fighting to be freed from the chains that bind. It's the story of diverse cultures trying to live in harmony with one another.
- It's the story of forgiveness.
- It's the story of deep humility and long suffering.
- Yet it's also the story of people standing up for themselves, saying, "We will not be treated like this anymore!"
I am a teacher and my students are the poorest in our country. They are neglected and rejected by society. It says in the novel, "For it is only because they see neither purpose nor goal that they turn to drink and crime and prostitution." That is how people view my kids. Every day, I try to inspire my kids to see that they have a "worthy purpose," that they are worthy.
It also says in Cry, the Beloved Country "And others say this is a danger, for better-paid labor will not only buy more but will read more, think more, ask more, and will not be content to be forever voiceless and inferior." I want that for my kids—for them to find their voices and become who they were meant to be. Take me with you. I know I can make a difference on your show and a difference in the lives of my kids.