Reflections on Africa

I have been back in America for nearly a month and a half. I have been back at school just about a month. My body is in Montana, though my heart and mind are still in Africa. I have had a lot of time to reflect on my experience and have come to a few conclusions.
America is weird. In coming back I have had a more powerful response to reverse culture shock than I ever had while in Africa. I have realized that Africa is so comfortable. I have lived an incredibly privileged life. I have had supportive parents, friends and community that allowed me to succeed in my chosen activities. I have had enough financial support to send me to college and gain a degree. I have had the security of safety within my community. I have taken a lot of these for granted. After living in Africa for three months, I saw a lot of variety in the quality of life people lived. Some were also very privileged, and others… were not. These stark differences only gave me a slight insight into the world of developing countries.
In my last few years of schooling I have focused on development in Africa with a health lens. One of the concepts we cover in development classes refers to how we measure development. Often times it is in GDP or infrastructural progresses or economic stability, however I have issues with these terms of measurement. If we only encourage communities to grow, they will become yet another society that is unable to support their population as well as increasing the effects of climate change.
I also believe that “development” from a western context does not encourage sustainability or inginuity within a community. If we do not place emphasis on communities developing in their cultural way, then we will soon wipe out all forms of diversity. While visiting the eastern cape, an area known for immense poverty and rural communities, I saw how happy the lives of the villagers were. I believe this is because their communities were small and tangible. People could see where their food comes from, knew who was treating them at the clinic, and were friends with those teaching their children. These small communities are dependent on each other, and thus peace and happiness are emphasized greatly.
It was such a privilege to become part of these communities, and only furthered my passion and curiosity about Africa. I wait with eager anticipation for when I can return to this diverse, untouched, and beautiful land.

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