Student It can be found in the spaces of homes, outside in the fresh African air, it has room to move and be as life goes on. It can be felt in the moments of silence when the power has gone, in the moments of sharing a meal or watching a foreign soap on the television. It seems to speak louder here, with less material stuff it has room to be, room to grow, room to dance and be free. In Africa it is not covered in layers of distractions and endless lists of things to do. It can be seen and felt by those who take the time to search for it. It is not required but something that the giver must openly offer to those around them. It is something that goes in both directions when those involved are being intentional. It is not heard, or physically seen, it cannot be bought, it is a gift, and something we all have the ability to give. The rewards of it are far more life giving than any material possession. And when time and energy are put towards it, the outcome is deeper more meaningful relationships. It is the physical presence of others that binds us in ways that words cannot. There is a certain feeling evoked when a person is present. I have witnessed and been brought into a family and culture that values the presence of each other as one of the greatest opportunity’s that life presents. I have been invited into this presence and now I have been given the chance to open my heart and mind to be present here.
I have learned in my time here that I emotionally place a great value on my time alone and in quiet with the Lord. I have had a few moments of struggle when I know I am expected and owe my presence to my family but wish to retreat to my room to spend time in silence and solitude. As we read through our book The Art of Crossing Cultures I made the connection of my mindset being a result of the culture I grew up in and the concept of Ethnocentrism. As the book said I have the capability to change the way I think and act and as a guest here, and I desire to do so in order that I may fully embrace every moment God has given me here. My attitude is something that I have the power to control, and slowly I am discovering that I have the ability to be present and to enjoy being present, as I take delight in the presence of others. My family is showing me another way to think and move and be. I feel that as an American this requires that I let go of my instinct to always be “doing” something. It requires that I accept in humility the hospitality I am shown and accept that sometimes what is appreciated the most from my new family is that I simply “be” with them. I am daily falling more in love with this way of life. I take pleasure in the little moments where I feel that presence all around me. I believe being present and accepting the treasure of the other person’s presence communicates the love and care and respect you have for one another. Daily I find myself in these moments, and I love them. No thought or analyzing is required as I simply rest in the peace and presence of my family. Some nights when the power has gone we eat dinner by lantern light and silence looms, but the feeling of presence fills the empty spaces and corners of the room, my heart beats contently knowing that their presence is with me, and mine with them. I truly believe this presence speaks louder than any words, binding us together as a family, in heart and soul with a humble giving spirit.
Written by current student, Natasha Kamps.
(Natasha & family)