The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Guest Column: Living in Zimbabwe showed me the beauty of simplicity

The Channels Opinion Pages | GUEST COLUMN
Yarrow Hogan
A gloomy sky hangs over the land on October 22, 2023 overlooking Kufunda Village. The small village is tucked into the trees spanning acres within the forest in Harare, Zimbabwe.

As my body lifted from the ground, the rumbling engine below me, a part of my soul was left behind on the African soil of Zimbabwe. 

The last two months of beauty, pain, curiosity, adventures and growth are now just a memory that will forever be inked onto the tattered pages of my notebook. My wings of opportunity began their ascent through the bright blue skies of privilege and prosperity, back to my home in the United States, the place where I longed to leave and the place where my new friends in Zimbabwe longed to be.

As I cozied into my 13 hour flight across the Atlantic, I reflected on the person I was when I began my journey and the person who I had now become, watching my temporary home for the last couple months disappear through the small airplane window. 

My time as a traveler wiped my slate clean and built a whole new framework for my sense of the world around me.

For two months, I visited Zimbabwe, the southern African country that was blooming with purple jacaranda trees and painted with vibrant colors and mesmerizing culture. 

My time was spent dancing to African drums, eating foods that I had never imagined I would try, playing cards with children at orphanages and sitting at the top of waterfalls. 

My hiking boots had become tattered and worn from the months prior to Zimbabwe, and my daily activities consisted of swimming in clear blue water, standing beneath the Pyramids of Giza and feeling the salinity of the Red Sea on my skin, each fleeting moment quickly replaced by the next adventure. 

However, my time in Africa tested my limits as a solo traveler. I immersed myself in the lives of the local people and saw joy and happiness accompanied by poverty and pain. I spent time with the people who felt the repercussions of oppression within their society and got just a taste for what the lives of Zimbabweans are like. 

The most valuable part of my journey was the month that I spent in a small remote village on the outskirts of Harare, the biggest city in Zimbabwe. 

Yarrow Hogan stands in the structure built by the people in the village of Kufunda on October 21, 2023. Hogan taught a movement class to the school children in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Yarrow Hogan)

I volunteered at their elementary school and lived in my own small round hut on the land. Throughout my time in this village, I spent my mornings at the school, the afternoons tending to the land or riding horses through the desert, learning their language and preparing dinner for a dozen villagers.

These experiences changed my entire perspective on my life. I gained a profound understanding of the simplicity of life and the inner workings of a community when the primary need is survival. I learned how to tend a land when the purpose was to sow seeds to prevent starvation and I began wondering when the next rainfall would burst from the sky and shower the garden with water.

I became aware of every aspect in my life that I took for granted and most materialistic and nonessential artifacts became meaningless to me.

It opened my eyes to understanding that the populations who make the least amount of detrimental effects in the environment get hit the hardest by the repercussions of the industrial world’s destruction. 

All of these lessons were bestowed to me by my time spent in Zimbabwe and the lifelong friendships that I made. The pure souls and hearts of gold that I met still inspire me everyday since I met them.

Upon my return home, I would often catch myself in a state of groundedness and resounding gratitude for everything around me. 

I know that my friends who remain in their home in Zimbabwe would tell me that their dream is to be where I am standing, so everyday I live for them and one day I hope I can wrap them in an embrace and tell them how much they mean to me.

Yarrow Hogan is a former editor-in-chief of The Channels from spring 2023.

The Channels welcomes guest columns for consideration from members of the campus community. Please contact [email protected].

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