A Year to Remember
Excerpts from the blog of Beth Rogers-Witte ’02, who’s coming to know Africa by spending a year in southern Sudan

I’m only a bit comforted that I’m not alone in my feelings of “reverse culture shock” in returning briefly back to the U.S. I was just reading a blog the other day from an aid worker in Darfur who mentioned that his trip “back home” in 2005 was as much, if not more, difficult as his time in Darfur. I felt this when I was in the Detroit airport restroom after the long flight from Nairobi awaiting the Customs line.

I was failing at all attempts to get water to come out of the motion-sensored sink faucet (you honestly forget how to do basic things when you’re away from modern comforts for so long) and was just thinking about how incredibly clean and spotless this airport restroom seemed when a woman walked up next to me at the sink and said, “I can’t believe how dirty it is in here, this is ridiculous”. I burst into tears.

My short stint in the U.S. has been relaxing and overwhelming at the same time. But it did make me realize how difficult it will be for me to settle back into an American lifestyle when I go back to graduate school next fall. While I always predict being shocked by the overabundance, waste and indulgence in America after spending time in other countries, it is even more blatant and depressing after living in southern Sudan. How on earth can we allow some people to have so much more than they need while millions others live without having their most BASIC human needs met? It’s always hard to swallow and even though I feel like I’m attempting to play a role in evening out this disparity, we have yet to even make a dent.

For more detailed posts describing Beth’s journey in the Sudan, go to