Fighting to hold the tears back, I sat restlessly in my seat with a cold blanket hiding my face. A long eighteen-hour flight lay ahead of me, during which time I could absorb the fact that I had just left my friends, my family, my country, my home. I was torn between sadness at leaving my whole life behind and a feeling of anxiety and excitement at starting a new life in an unknown world.
For twelve years, South Africa had been my home. By attending a private Catholic school with only seven hundred students from kindergarten through grade twelve, I grew up with the same friends and classmates in each grade since the age of five. We knew each other so well that we were like family, and I blossomed in this sheltered environment.
This sheltered environment was shattered on the 22nd of July 1997, when my family received a large, white, official envelope f