I am by no means a world traveler, but after flying to South Africa I feel that I am an expert of planes, airports, and the art of sleeping on planes! While I was not prepared for the flights ahead on our departure date of May 15, I was even less prepared for what awaited half way across the globe in Cape Town, South Africa. I live in my own PC and TC (Tega Cay) bubble and I am not ashamed to say so. It is so easy to forget what life is actually like for the majority of our world’s population-one of my many take always from our trip
How do you define poverty? I’ll never forget that was the first question Dr. Turner asked us on the first day of his International Social Entrepreneurship class. Is it living under the poverty line? Or having no access to running water? Or what about education? Or is it simply having no hope and outlook for your future. South Africa can easily be classified in poverty in many respects, but lacking in hope is not one of them. The people of South Africa were so eager to create, build, develop, educate, change, and succeed. I met some of the most exciting and inspirational entrepreneurs in South Africa who wanted to create and build their ideas into businesses that would help their country prosper. One gentleman created a ground-breaking company that brought Internet access, computer training, and IT courses to many poor townships in the Cape Town and Johannesburg areas. People like Ian, Stuart, and Kevin wanted to educate South Africans in order to change South Africa’s future. And each South African that I met seized every opportunity they were given to succeed-a Mandela mindset that appeared to be embedded into each citizen. Hope was certainly not what the factor for the country’s poverty.
While in Cape Town, I got to experience small glimpses into the difficult life many Africans have there. But in reality, I was quite spoiled. I travelled in nice planes, buses, and cabs. I stayed in one of the nicest hotels in Cape Town and at a beautiful game lodge. And ate some of the best food I’ve ever had to date. In fact the only insight I had into the real Africa came while driving past townships or the numerous beggers on the street. One of my most memorable moments was meeting a native South African at the waterfront and her telling me how dangerous the country can actually be. In actuallity every country (even the US) has crime, but she explained to me how often people get killed simply over their cellphone. I have to remember that South Africa is one of the more developed and safe countries in Africa! It can come as a shock to realize how different things are.
Since I’ve been home, countless people have asked me what I thought of South Africa. I always tell them that is one of the most beautiful and amazing countries I’ve ever been to. If the flight wasn’t so long I’d book my trip back in a heartbeat. I also have to explain to them that South Africa is in some ways twenty or so years behind the US. Their social, political, and economic views and policies seem to be lagging from the rest of th developed world. It’s easy to forget that only a short twenty years ago the country was plagued with extreme racism and hatred. This is something that is still so present there today and something that the people are continually trying to conquer. But without hesitation I tell everyone that South Africa is a MUST visit in their future.
Dr. Turner opened my eyes to a different world through this trip. I am so thankful that I was able to participate and wouldn’t trade this experience for the world! Now I want to continue to travel more than ever. In fact I have already started saving up for a trip next summer. I cannot thank Dr. Turner and everyone else who made this trip possible enough. Definitely an experience of a lifetime.