My first steps on African soil were in the country of South Africa.
I still remember landing in Johannesburg.
I still remember visiting Soweto.
I still remember visiting Nelson's Mandela's home and then bumping into Winnie Mandela just outside as we were preparing to leave.
I still remember visiting Robben Island and thinking how cold and stark it felt even in the middle of summer...and wondering how a prisoner could have survived there. Not only survived but also maintained hope and strength.
I still remember worrying that I would feel the constant weight of racism on my shoulders when I got to South Africa, but instead feeling welcome and happy to be in such a rich, vibrant country.
I still remember thinking that so much of what I was experiencing during my 6 weeks in South Africa was made possible by this man, Nelson Mandela
But before all that I remember being a high school girl, who had never before left her home country, sitting on her bed in Pittsburgh and watching on television as Mr. Mandela was released from prison. I remember feeling an odd mix of joyful pride that he had been freed, and worry and sadness that a policy like apartheid was still very present in a place just half a globe spin away.
Today as I mourn, Mr. Mandela's passing, I also remember a soul that never gave up, that believed in goodness and that inspired a generation.
I still remember...