When I moved to South Africa, I experienced many “firsts”.
Some were pretty comical. Such as the first time I rode an ostrich, fought a monkey, pet a hippo, or battled a tarantula. Who can forget my first multi-language proposal? Or the times I ate warthog, zebra, ostrich, kudu, springbok, goat nose, cow intestine, and chicken liver. Not all at once, of course! And shaving my hair off for the first time was quite an experience!
Some were a lot more difficult to handle.
Such as the first time I heard an Apartheid-era police officer (white officer) describe how she controlled the townships with bullets. Or watching a full-grown man slap my learners with a pair of shoes. And the first time I watched a friend get mugged.
Some were transformative. The first time I stuck a spade into African soil and began gardening. The time I was told that a learner had died, likely from HIV/AIDS. Or the day the teachers at my school told me that one of my own students had been raped, from my fifth grade class.
Moving to South Africa meant experiencing many “firsts”, ones full of joy and ones full of sorrow. Some were shocking, and others were numbing. And still others filled me with a wild joy. And as difficult as life was there, I wouldn’t trade all those “firsts” for anything.
And when I returned to the USA, I once again had to experience a round of “firsts”, as I learned to readjust to a whole new life.