The last day

It’s finally here. Time to say goodbye. After two weeks of intense study, meaningful interactions and deep bonding, it’s finally time to part ways. The tearful goodbyes had already started last night, but would continue all through today. So to prepare us for the inevitable, today was a day of reflection.

We started the day with an exercise to have participants process how they’re feeling about going home. But with a twist–they had to describe their feelings in their mother tongue with someone who didn’t speak the same language as them. This gave them to chance to speak freely and honestly. We followed this up with a┬áreflection exercise to examine how we’ve got to where we are today. Who are you? What are your dreams? What fears are holding you back? What are you goals and how can you get there?

After our final lunch in the dining hall, we went back to the Dialogue groups we formed at the very start of the course and again talked openly about the meaningful moments we had experienced, and how we’ve all grown over the last two weeks. We ended the session with participants making little wishes for each other, and it’s amazing to see the depth of insight they have developed into each other over such a short course of time. These are clearly not just superficial connections; the bonds run deep.

We followed this up with a raucous graduation, where every participant was individually recognized by their umbrella parents for their contribution to the course. After dinner, a group went on an impromptu hike to the hill behind campus. Then we ended the day with a final exercise in gratitude, where participants got to thank each other individually for everything they had done for them.

The day is finally quieting down, with some last minute packing and conversations. The tears and hugs and still flowing freely, of course, as is the gratitude. Everyone boards buses for Johannesburg at 8 am tomorrow.

All of this means, it’s time to say goodbye to the blog for this year. Thank you so much for reading along. It’s been a great short course, and at this moment, every single one of us feels so grateful to have experienced it. Thank you for sharing your children with us. We could not have had a better, more empathetic, kind or idealistic bunch. If the future is in the hands of the youth, our future is secure.

Until next year, adios!