Hi I’m Jean, The founder of Crossing Countries and team leader, of this our second trip to Durban, South Africa. When not developing Crossing Countries I work for Edinburgh University and other organisations to enable disabled people to have equal opportunities.
I am really excited about this trip as art and education are two subjects that are very close to my heart. I am looking forward to seeing how the team will work together and how we will meet the challenges we will inevitably face.
1435 photo and video files, 37.9 GB of data, 6300 air miles, 70 miles walked, early mornings, emotional tears, hysterical laughter, wonderment, Suzi and Laura’s flexibility, hard work, resilience and enthusiasm… and… yet again I am astounded by what the Crossing Countries Team has achieved.
Every trip has different challenges and from every trip I come back stronger, more confident and more committed to Crossing Countries.
This trip I realised I can stop worrying about our impact and sustainability as what we do cannot be measured by some excel spreadsheet or questionnaire. I realised that as it is not about being there always, sharing skills or meeting costs. It is about showing by ‘being the change you want to see’ as Ghandi says. The Principal at Nombika said our art instillation will perish but we have left an indelible mark on the learners. A young man told me he felt he was free, for the first time, to talk about anything and to know he would be listened to and not judged. This is priceless. Maya Angelou captures my feelings better than I can ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
Hi there, my name is Laura, I am currently studying Fine Art, and I am about to begin the fourth year of my honours degree. During which I am also working part time in my local Theatre and I have been doing so for the past six years. I am always finding myself drawn to the arts and anything creative, which I think is one of the reasons I am so keen to explore new cultures and really learn about new things.
Volunteering abroad is something I have always wanted to do, however having Arthritis and Uveitis I have found executing this idea somewhat challenging. When I heard about Crossing Countries through a presentation at university the prospect of volunteering in Durban, South Africa sounded ideal for my situation. Travelling to such a country with people that are aware of my disability and understand my needs the idea of doing something so different doesn’t seem such a frightening notion anymore. The chance to experience something that I never believed I could do, meeting many new people and being somewhere with so many fascinating things to learn is now something I can actually look forward to doing. Of-course there are still some worries when travelling to a completely different country far from all my home comforts, however I am comfortable with the guidance I have been given from my team members, so now something that seemed scary at first now is seeming more and more exciting.
What an amazing 17 days, I was privileged to be a part of some incredible projects, whilst meeting so many wonderful people along the way. I am very proud of everything we achieved and can’t honestly believe it is all over now. Some parts were emotionally challenging like Ikwhezi but at other times I surprised myself by teaching a class on the first day I was in Nombika. I didn’t realise I could facilitate learners to achieve so much on their own given the style of teaching in South Africa. With so many beautiful places and people, it is an experience I will truly never forget.
Hi all, my name is Suzi and I am a support worker for young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. I have been working with young people in this field for almost 7 years and love it. When the opportunity to join the Crossing Countries team arose I was so excited. I had been to South Africa and Durban many times before and love the country so much that the thought of assisting someone else to have the same amazing experiences I have had in the past was an opportunity I couldn’t give up. I think the thing I am most apprehensive about is making sure that everyone has a good time and gets as much out of the experience as possible. I am most excited for the projects we have arranged to go and volunteer at! I can’t wait to see what the young people as well as ourselves come up with.
I cant believe what we have achieved. I think it will take time for me to fully appreciate everything that we did. I am tired, as Laura said on our way home we are brilliant and broken, I would happily be this tired forever if we could continue to do what we did in the last 17 days. This journey has lit a fire in me to do more, for others as well as myself. I have learnt that sometimes laughter is the best medicine and we should all laugh till we cry as much as possible. I have learnt that sometimes the best thing you can do is to be there. Hold someones hand. Tell them they are great. That is worth more than any money you can give. Now I can’t wait for the next Crossing Countries adventure!
I had a great time with Crossing Countries. Technically a great time of my life. I may look like I am a normal person, but mentally I believe I was disable. I had a stereotype about a variety of things. I believed there were things which were just made for white people. That was my barrier of life, it was my boundary. But Suzi, Laura and Jean took me in to an adventure. I challenged my boundaries and I am so grateful about that. You guys are lovely and friendly and at the same time you doing very hard job which I am keen to be part of next year. Not only South Africa or Scotland but the whole world needs people like you. I am glad I met you guys