Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Serving it up at Manenberg Primary!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bleeding Together

I stepped onto the stage, wiping the sweat from my brow and trying to quell my abnormal amount of nerves. In less than a minute, I was no longer going to be a college student anymore. Four years of late-night studying, spending time with friends, recognizing personal growth and change - all of this was coming to an end once I shook my Chancellor’s hand and walked across the stage …

And then I fell off the -

Haha. Kidding. But wow, walking across the stage, graduating … it felt great, but it didn’t feel spectacular. Many describe graduating college as ending a chapter in life. However, it doesn’t feel like an ended chapter; there was no dramatic climax to close out my college experience, no eloquent string of words or heart-wrenching death of a key character … it just ended.

Come to think of it, I haven’t felt “done” or “ready” to move onto the next chapter of life for a long time. When I was a little girl, I felt mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ready for the K-12 school years. I can’t describe the feeling other than being “ready.” But now, life never seems to stop. The school year is followed by an internship, which is followed by school, with service, social activities, and other things as a constant throughout.

I suppose a chapter never fully ends because life bleeds together. The information I learned in my Native American Religious Traditions class came back to me as I read a brief history of Minnesota today. Right there, there were two chapters of my life, bleeding together. My belief in social justice didn’t stop with the end of college - it has continued into my summer internship (I’m interning at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, post to come soon!) and will last throughout my lifetime. Parts of my life are not separated anymore - they are connected and dancing together in magical ways.

I’m sure you’re asking, “What is your point, Erin? How does this relate to traveling on your Keegan Fellowship?” Well, let me tell you.

Without sounding morbid, I want to see where things bleed together. Where, and how will culture “bleed together” while I am abroad? How different am I from someone in Hyderabad, India? Will I walk away from my travels with distinct memories of cultural groups, or will there be common themes and desires that unite all people across cultural boundaries?

Where will I bleed together with others? Conversely, where will my Whiteness, my nationality, my gender - any piece of my identity - separate me from others?

I’m excited to share this journey with you all. However, I want to set a few ground rules, and hope you will hold me accountable to these rules:
  1. I will reflect on aspects of culture without exocitizing people groups. I want to walk the thin line of highlighting differences and unique characteristics without making other humans seem exotic.
  2. I will post pictures of my travels, but I will not post any photos of other people without their permission.  
  3. I want your feedback, questions, and advice. If I fail to post a thoughtful question at the end for you all to respond to, will you share your thoughts anyway? This fellowship has me traveling, but I want you in on the conversation.

Signing off, and here is my question for you: What seemingly-disparate areas in your life bleed together, and what brought those areas together?