SAWIP inspires, develops and supports annual teams of interns and its whole alumni body to bring about community development through social projects amongst the most disadvantaged and marginalised South Africans.

Lessons from DC

by Daniel Hagen
Daniel Hagen
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on Jul 20 in Experience 1 Comment

This post is going to be fairly incoherent, and in truth, that is a fair reflection of my mindset at present. As I get ready to leave the United States, which is altogether very sad because I have truly come to love Washington D.C. and with its dreadful weather, Metro, and curious mix of capital importance and efficiency with Southern hospitality, I am reflecting more and more on what I have learned here that I can take home with me to South Africa. I have found that:

1.) If you want to force some sort of change, you should do it yourself. There is no reason why you should not be able to bring about what it is you’re pursuing.

2.) There is no need to wait to enter leadership or politics; DC is a city in which young people can take up tremendous responsibilities –politics and leadership need not be an old man’s game”, so why wait?

3.) And of course, because it's now, because it's DC, "politics is important". The individuals themselves, who come and go so quickly, are not important (nor is the hot air they send into the atmosphere on a daily basis), but their legacies are; should they work hard enough to leave one. And that is by far the most important thing, not just making noise to be noticed in the present, but leaving the lasting impression to be remembered in the future.

Although there are many more lessons I have taken from this experience, these are the ones that are sticking with me right now, that I look forward to taking into consideration when I get back to South Africa. The knowledge and experience I have gained in my time here is quite incredible, but I am desperate to test out the "improved" me back in the South African context, where I belong. I am confident this whole experience has made me better equipped to be a servant in South Africa.


So thank you Washington D.C., thank you America with all your wonderful warm and larger-than-life personalities, thank you SAWIP (and SAWIP’s tireless management crew), thank you to my amazing hosts, my delightful co-workers, and of course, thank you to the rest of the SAWIP team. Our time together certainly isn’t over, our project still needs to be implemented. And after we graduate SAWIP (fingers crossed), the longest part of our South African story still needs to be written. As it is in DC where young people seize their opportunities, it is up to us to seize ours to create the country we all want. I’m sad to be leaving, but on the other hand, I can’t wait to turn the page.

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Daniel Hagen

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sally Saturday, 21 July 2012 · Edit Reply

Daniel, it's wonderful to pick up your sense of empowerment and conviction that young people can and must initiate, work hard and leave a legacy. Yes, you all have a long journey ahead......may it be filled with realised aspirations. Travel safely HOME.

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