The last couple of months at our project, Mitchell House were very busy. We had a June/July holiday that lasted about three weeks so by the time we arrived back, only three weeks remained! During the holiday my family decided to come and visit which was lovely. We took part in a Nomad Tour and travelled round Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe in a truck for two and a half weeks. It was a fantastic experience – my personal highlight was flying over the Okavango Delta in a small plane and camping in the bush for a couple of nights. Being able to show my family some of the things Ive experienced this year was fantastic, they even spent a day in the Enrichment Centre where Id been working for the last 12 months. It was quite a surreal moment when I introduced them to all of the children – up until that point theyd only read about them in my weekly blog posts!
After they left it was the final three week countdown. All year youre aware of how much time you have left and only when you near the end do you realise how fast the time has flown. Before I left for South Africa people kept telling me that the time whizzes by but I would be thinking its a year, how fast can it go?. I was, however, proved wrong. The year definitely did whizz by!
In a way, the last three weeks were among the nicest I experienced throughout the whole year. Because I knew that time was running out, I made the most of every opportunity with the children and made sure to enjoy every day. The kids were also aware that we would be leaving soon, so we kept receiving beautiful pictures and endless shows of affection. This proved to me that at the end of a years hard work, our efforts had not gone unnoticed. It was nice to think that wed be missed by the children.
When the final week was underway, emotions started to show. We had to hold two final assemblies – one for the college block and one for the Junior block (including the Enrichment Centre) and my partners and I prepared a video to show the children. It consisted of two songs – the first one showing what we did whilst travelling and the second was based purely on the children. During the video in the Junior assembly everyone started crying so it wasnt long before we started weeping too! The next few days were hectic as we tried to say goodbye to everyone and hand out gifts but finally the time came and the three of us were sitting on the bus, driving away from Mitchell House.
Once we arrived in Joburg and met up with all the other volunteers it was a little bit easier. Hearing everyone elses goodbye stories made me realise that I wasnt the only one that was finding leaving my project difficult. After the initial shock of leaving I started to get excited at the prospect of seeing all my friends again, in only a couple of days!
After very long, tiring flights (I wont bore you with the details) I landed in Edinburgh. It was so strange flying in over the city and seeing everything again – nothing had changed! I realised this even more after being at home for a couple of days, everything was the same I think this made it feel like time had gone even faster, it didnt feel like Id been away at all. It took a couple of weeks for me to get used to the idea of having nothing to do, I was very bored for most of the time but the idea of starting university kept me going.
Only after getting back did I realise the changes in myself. Before I left, the prospect of starting university was more terrifying than flying to South Africa for a year, but when I arrived home, I was ready to start the next chapter. I feel like Im much more independent. Im happy to do things by myself and not always be surrounded by friends. People close to me have commented that my confidence has grown, that I am more sure of my decisions. All of these things probably wouldve developed anyway, but I feel like they developed a lot quicker from me having spent a year away from home. Spending that time away between school and university was the best thing I couldve done. I met new people and experienced so much more than I would have during my first year of university.
Pictures Attached: final days working with the children (first three pics), Namibia, Botswana and Zim tour with family (last two pics)
For the video we made for our leaving assembly please follow this link: http://www.mitchellhouse.co.za/index.php/enrichment-centre/interns-vid