After finding my passion for gardening in South Africa, I began holding workshops for fellow volunteers around the country. Some of them had been trained like me, and others hadn’t. But several times, fellow volunteers asked me to come to their village to train their communities in permaculture and sustainable food production.
And time and time again, I saw surprised faces.
You see, young women don’t often work in the garden. They certainly don’t do it if there are men around. And they absolutely do not work in the garden if they are white.
Shattering racial barriers became something of a norm throughout my time in South Africa. Since I almost exclusively worked in “black” communities, I often surprised people by hopping in with a spade and digging in the garden, simply because I was white.
What can I say? I loved the work I did!
And I love shattering those racial expectations in my everyday work.
You see, South Africa is still scarred by the legacy of Apartheid. Racial barriers and expectations are deeply entrenched. And each day I showed up to work, whether I taught or harvested carrots in the garden, I was stepping over those racial lines and changing the stereotypes.
And as I changed the expectations others had of me, I also began to change my worldview.
All in a day’s work!
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