Reflection on South Africa

A few weeks ago I was halfway across the world in a country that was both beautiful and busy. Cape Town was unlike any other place I could imagine. The natural beauty of its mountains to the bustling streets filled with crazy taxi drivers made for an unforgettable trip. We could not have had a better group for this trip. The memories I made during my time spent abroad in Africa will surely have a lasting impact on me.

When I first thought of Africa I thought of a poor country with little progress towards modernization. I knew that they would have fresh water and some modern amenities, but South Africa offered much more than that. The hotel we stayed in was absolutely magnificent. The staff was first class from start to finish. My thoughts on Africans were drastically altered after a few short hours. We met some really cool people while we were away. The first night I met a man at the hotel bar named Nigel. He was from the UK on business in Cape Town. He went on to tell me how he was an electrical engineer for some big technology company. I talked to him for a while about cars, America, his family, and his travels to other countries. He told me out of all the places that he has been too, if he could pick one place to visit every time that it would be Cape Town. When I asked him why, he responded “TIA” (Meaning “This Is Africa”) He said Cape Town is unlike any other place in the world and he can never imagine a more beautiful country. I thought that was a pretty cool thing to hear from a man who has seen so many places on this planet. Another awesome person that we met was our mentor for the week, Stuart Hendry. He was a large man that might have been one of the nicest people I have ever met. Stuart had a very impressive resume and seemed to be quite the patriot and advocate for his country. He taught us a great deal, but he mainly emphasized the idea of leadership and the skills that must be obtained to be a successful leader. Each of his lectures was better than the previous one. Stuart was a blast to be around and made the trip a riot.

I believe the lessons I have learned on this trip will prove to be essential to my future career. We learned all about being proactive and what it takes to make it in this crazy ambiguous world. Each of us obtained the tools for success from all of our speakers. We even heard stories from a person who started with absolutely nothing and now he is one of the richest men in South Africa. This man was from a township and through computers and offering classes he opened a large technology hub and from then on created more locations to better the townships. He said the key idea is to find a market place. He taught us to target an area in the market that can be expanded. Entrepreneurs like that are the cornerstone for a nation that so desperately needed growth forward from the so recent Apartheid that almost tore South Africa apart. The creation of institutions and aligning them with social interest leads to productivity and a more enriched life. Granted they still have a long way to go, but in due time I believe South Africa will become a large power. They seemed to be constantly growing each day.

This trip will stick with me in my years to come. The trip was absolutely phenomenal and I would not have changed my decision to go. Traveling to a place like that really opens your eyes to the outside world and you begin to see a bigger picture. I would recommend Cape Town to anyone. I plan to travel abroad again based on this enlightening experience. It is such a beautiful place and if I can use half the things I learned I believe I too can be a success story.


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