Cape Town was first known as the Cape Of Good Hope and stories like the one below bring hope to an increasingly divided and segregated world.

In response to his experience and participation in Heritage Day celebrated this past weekend in South Africa, one of our newest interns, Tyler Wilkins shared the following thoughts:

“Our time celebrating Heritage Day last night was a rather remarkable experience. One word that I can’t help but focus on is inclusivity. I am what you might refer to as an “over-thinker” and have channelled massive energy in my first week here in South Africa into figuring out where I fit into the overall Cape Town experience. More so, figuring out how to best acclimate and participate in an entirely new culture.

My life experiences in America, and the current social climate, sometimes result in me acting with a stuck mindset where my views are truth and all opposition is idiocy. I aggressively align myself with whatever political party, or whatever stance on a particular social issue that best mirrors my beliefs and ideologies and then proceed wage war on all who oppose. What I often forget to realize is that such stuck mindsets only furthers the divide we witness on a daily occurrence and further alienates us from the global community; our brothers and sisters. Stuck mindsets oppose deliberation and empathy; they have insatiable hungers that feed off division and opposition.

It’s this struggle that has kept me so busy with never-ending introspection to figure out where I belong here and what role I will play. It’s this struggle that has left my mind tricking me into believing I’m an outsider that has no place participating in cultural practices or heritage of the proudly South African people. Do you see what I’m saying? These walls we build keep us from inclusiveness. It keeps us feeling like we are “person x” and they are “person y” and the best we can do is acknowledge their existence and pay tribute to their experiences. It keeps us from understanding and it keeps us from having those healing talks that will ultimately lead to stronger communities and more empowered people.

Last night was so remarkable because my walls that I have built so intricately were bombarded with love, acceptance, participation, and INCLUSIVENESS. I was invited to dance, I was invited to listen to poetry, and I was invited to learn. When I entered the building, I didn’t enter as a white American male, I entered as a member of the global community. I was organically encouraged to shed my feelings of exclusion and participate in the celebration of Heritage Day.”

Inclusivity in South Africa

“So, a big shout out to the beautiful people of South Africa and all its inhabitants (travellers and natives alike) for allowing me to feel so welcomed in a place so far from home. Thank you for inviting me to participate in celebrating the diversity of your country and allowing me opportunities to break down my walls and practice a more inclusive way of living my life. Thank you for helping me understand your struggles and allowing me the ability to come to you compassionately and empathetically. You have contributed to my own internal healing.

If you are still reading this, I encourage us to move forward and start practising inclusiveness. Invite others to learn of our culture and our own personal experiences and just as importantly allow others the space to express to us theirs. Put everything on the table so we can deliberate, argue, agree, and ultimately move forward together. This will allow for the healing talks we are so desperately in need of.”

Should you like to follow Tyler’s journey in South Africa and share in his future revelations you can follow him on his page. Thank you Tyler for sharing your wisdom with us, we are honoured to have you as part of our program.