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Sprinting to Slow Down

By: Cherie Chung, Georgetown University, ThinkImpact South Africa Scholar

My journey to South Africa began with a delay: my plane from DC to New York was late, giving me only thirty minutes to sprint through the maze that is JFK airport to board the connecting flight to Johannesburg. I was zooming through the airport at top speed, but it was not enough – my cell phone rang with a call from South African Airways, urging me to move faster because I was the last passenger yet to board. Soon, I heard my name over the PA, echoing the same message.

I have come to see this as a description of life in the States – we seem to constantly hurry. We are always rushing from one activity to another, and yet we still never feel that we are moving fast enough. There is always something or someone else calling us to speed up the pace of life.

Here in South Africa, in the small town of Lutzville Wes, we are experiencing the exact opposite, and it is a welcome break. Through the Immerse phase, our only job has been to talk to others, build relationships with them, and learn more about this amazing place. These past two weeks have been filled with the simple pleasures that I was missing while zooming along at top speed – casual conversations with people we met on the streets, playing netball with my adorable neighbors, sitting on the porch with a cup of rooibos tea and my Kindle, watching the sun rise.

From slowing down, life has become happier because I am having experiences I would have missed – the chance to develop relationships, to stop and pick up something on the street and wonder where it came from, to think about all the conveniences and items that fill our lives and how we get them. Here, they do not have computers or high speed internet or cars in abundance like we do – all the things we use to speed up our lives. But in a way, that is its own advantage. Here, without those distractions, they find their own fun, from each other. They have community, something we seek to find, something that we as people all really want at the end of the day. Something that I will miss, with a serious ache, when it is time to go home.

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author of this article do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University or any employee thereof.

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