Inspiration in unexpected places.

Hi, I’m Whitney. Nice to meet you again.

I feel like I need to reintroduce myself after two months away. I promise it was unintentional, even though the new job’s been challenging, the end of the summer semester demanding and the rest of life distracting. Excuses, excuses. I do appreciate those of you who ever-so-politely harrassed me about blogging during those quiet weeks. I really needed that kick in the pants, and I’m honored that you’re reading.

I must confess that I haven’t cooked a bite since I last left you, and I’ve been subsisting primarily on cracker chips, sliced cheese, hummus and the Trader Joe’s frozen food section. But I’m starting to get the itch again for a cooking spree, so stay tuned on that.

I also promised so many months ago to tell you about my trip to South Africa, which was on the back burner until last weekend when I was sitting in the audience at The Lion King, of all places. I first saw the show on Broadway many years ago, and always thought it was a stunning visual spectacle. But I’ve never been really connected to the story, the movie or the show. My mom has wanted to see it forever, so I took her while we were in Las Vegas.
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The art of forgiveness.

It’s T-minus 10 days until I depart for the continent of Africa … eek!

In the last few weeks, my travel group has been meeting for several pre-trip sessions to educate ourselves on South Africa’s history, culture and current events. At a recent session we watched “Long Night’s Journey into Day,” a documentary about the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that began in the late 1990s. The TRC was formed by President Nelson Mandela in an attempt to heal the nation after the era of apartheid, and the commission invited all South Africans, whether jailed for their crimes or not, to come forward and publicly confess to any politically-motivated atrocities they committed during apartheid. They could also apply for amnesty from criminal and civil prosecution. The TRC seems to have a strong faith component as well; it was chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who called the TRC a “national program of reconciliation.” To read more about the TRC, click here.

The documentary featured the stories of four groups appearing before the commission. Many Americans may recall the 1993 murder of student Amy Biehl — one of her murderers, Mongezi Manqina, is featured as he applied for (and was granted) amnesty. Others, such as Eric Taylor, a white security police officer who killed four black anti-apartheid activists known as the Cradock Four, were not. Keep reading »

I bless the rains down in Africa.

I received some very important mail this weekend … my travel documents for South Africa! I hinted back in January about a big international trip I was taking and now I can confirm it. In May we’re going to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. Really, they had me at “safari,” “winery tour” and “high tea.”

This trip will mark my second time crossing the equator, and adds another continent to my count: 4. Like most things, my father has declared that to be a competition, so we’ll just have to see who makes it to Antarctica first. My money’s on him.

I have a couple of months to study up, and I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. I’ve already watched Invictus, and my grandmother keeps recommending various Nelson Mandela biographies. I’ll tackle those in my “spare time,” I suppose.

Oh, and I hear it looks like this. Whoa.