Crossing the River: An Outtatown Grad Speech

The following post is the grad speech given by Olita Elia on April 15, 2018 at CMU. 


Mandela once said: “Ndiwe(y)limilambo enamagama” (I have crossed famous rivers). It means that one has travelled a great distance, that one has had wide experience and gained some knowledge from it.”

Throughout this year we have all crossed many rivers, literally and figuratively. We all came into this program for various reasons, regardless of how well it fit into the grand scheme of what we imagined our lives to be. Most of us had a vague notion of the ideals that Outtatown functions under. Knowing God, yourself, and the world. It seems as if encompassing all these things within the year ahead may have been an awful lot to ask, or even hold as an expectation. I think we’ve all come to know however, that these words are only applicable if we want them to be. Whether these ideals have been applicable, are applicable now, or have the potential to be in the future, our time together has been so worthwhile.

Having lived in Community with 32 other people this year has had its advantages, and disadvantages. Especially when 33 people from 33 different walks of life are asked to do their own dishes every once in a while. We have lived with a group of wise, but clueless, sometimes frustrating, often helpful, but consistently Wonderful people. We have walked through each others faith journey, have challenged the beliefs that we hold and why, and we’ve all heard some really valuable thoughts, and have learned some memorable lessons.

One of those lessons being that caring about the people around you is something that I would say is almost unavoidable. Learning how to care for those around you despite conflicting experiences is something extremely valuable. I think that we can all recall the traits of those among our group that may have ground a few gears, but learning to love them is something that we must not only do in caring for one another, but also must do in our quests of living in love as Jesus did. While we are called to live as Jesus did, things tend to get slightly more complex when the time comes for those words to turn into actions. A speaker that came to us closer to the beginning of the first semester spoke to how we as humans are a conflicted race. We as the human race are capable of incredibly beautiful things, but just the same we are equally capable of horrifying things. While we may not have all the answers regarding the intricacies of our world, as we search to deepen our understandings we must do our very best to try and imitate what is good and Christlike.

It seems as if one of the catalysts for gaining a wider perspective on some of the ways in which the world works was and is definitely the people that we have encountered throughout the year. We can only live through our own perspective throughout the entirety of our lives, but this doesn’t mean that our views of the world should consist of such an individual lens. Every single day of our lives, in one form or another, includes interactions with the people around us. During our time in South Africa, I think it was pretty evident just how valuable it is to seek out the perspective of those in different walks of life. Within the first week of staying in a township on our travels we were told to go in with a posture of learning. One of our speakers gave us a metaphor to use as a guide for what was to come. If we live our lives in expectancy, what we are doing is living with our hands open. Open to receive new experiences, and open to the perspectives of others. If we live our lives through expectations however this closes our hands and we receive very little if anything at all. Living in expectancy, and adopting a posture of learning is vital for following the call of Jesus to walk in love.

You don’t have to travel the world to have traveled a great distance. 33 people this year have crossed a couple oceans together. As we part, the call to continue to take steps in crossing water does not cease. I hope that everyone here can tread through the water they approach in life with open hands, Thank you 🙂

South Africa 2017-18 Grad.jpg

Site 2 South Africa for the 2017-18 program year.


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