I Swear I Won't Cry

By Jess Faber

After I committed to this program the first thing I wondered was who I was going to be sharing this crazy life adventure with. And “hopefully they’re cool”.

When I walked into the LSC classroom for our first meeting I looked around to all the strange faces and thought “eh”. I couldn’t picture myself really getting to know any of them, let alone sharing the emotional experience that I was expecting out of this program . To be fair that was a big expectation I was putting on a first impression… but what can I say, I had big expectations.

I could not have been more wrong.

I’m writing this on the last full day we have left in Africa, and I’ve done way more than just get to know them. Things that make total strangers feel like family in just 3 weeks.

I’ve had thorns pulled out of my feet (and other places) despite the dirt and smell and stains covering them. I’ve gotten neck massages because I’d complained about headaches. I’ve done yoga with some of them overlooking the most beautiful mountains so that our bodies don’t feel quite as useless after the 5 meals we ate that day. And just about all of them have taken turns scratching my back when I feel needy. They’ve even patiently dealt with me stopping all 3 of our vehicles just so I can go pee on the side of the road. But most importantly they let me feel like I can be myself. Despite the jokes and the insults we occasionally throw at each other, I know that they accept me for me. That’s something that I’ve learned to value in life, because it doesn’t always happen as often as it should.

We’ve had some fun times together but it was more than that. We’ve had each others backs after having experienced some harsh realities, and challenged each others thinking on issues difficult for anyone to study.

Each one of the them has had a part in making this experience better than I could have ever expected. When we finally land in Denver and get off our last flight, I’m confident that the relationships we’ve made during our time in South Africa won’t end there. They became my family.

Natalie Miller