I was fortunate enough to get to attend the AISA (Association of International Schools in Africa) conference in Johannesburg, South Africa this past October. It was a wonderful professional experience and a welcome respite from Dakar’s heat.
One of the speakers was the author Beverly Naidoo, whose book Journey to Jo’Burg I began using my first year of teaching and used for many years in my classroom. She spoke of growing up white in South Africa during the time of apartheid, her exile from the country and her writing process. I felt so privileged to meet her. Journey to Jo’Burg is the story of two children, trying to make their way from their small village where there was no doctor for their sick sister, to their mother 300 km away in Jo’Burg where she worked as a housekeeper. It was a powerful story when I first read it and now even more so where I see what lengths some families still have to go through to be able to have both the employment and salary necessary to support their families, even at the most basic level.
The conference abutted a long weekend, so I was able to extend my visit to South Africa to include a trip to Kruger Park, about six hours away by car. Some of adventurous colleagues had planned the trip prior to my joining the staff and they were kind enough to allow me to join them. We stayed one night in a camp (like you’d find in a state park in Ohio) inside the park and one night in a lovely guest house right outside the park. While we never saw any wild cats, we saw many other animals. I especially loved the elephants and giraffes, both with babies in tow.
What an amazing experience. I only regretted not having my family with me to get to see the wonders with me.