When I first heard about the Business Department taking a trip to South Africa, I remember the text conversation I had with my dad… “Dad! My department is doing a Maymester in South Africa! How cool is that? Can I go?” His response was simply, “how much is it?” I replied back with “IDK” which lead him to respond with, “then ‘IDK’ (he thought he was so cool using “text lingo.”) My experience and time spent in Cape Town was well worth any amount of money he could have spent getting me there. The people I met left a huge mark on my life, changing my view on many things we take for granted here in the states. South Africa will forever have a place in my heart.
As I reflect back on our trip, I believe the word Kevin Chaplin introduced to us, Ubuntu, sums up our time in South Africa completely. By his definition, Ubuntu means that you are a person through other people, you value your community over yourself, and humanity is an integral part of the ecosystem. I was blown away by the amount of pride people have for their South Africa. With everyone we had the opportunity to meet and talk with, you could see how much they wanted change for their country. Everyone was so passionate. People like Stuart, Kevin, Kissame and Luvuyo Rani, who knew their purpose and were driven for making a change, inspired me beyond belief. I hope I can be that passionate about a cause one day. People like them completely changed my view on the country as a whole. They love their country and are willing to go the extra mile to help make the change that is very much needed.
There are so many situations during the trip I could talk about that made an impact on me. I know I will carry them with me in the future because they meant that much to me and touched my heart in a pretty special way. The first was our work at the Phillippi Children’s Center. A little hard work and sweat never hurt anyone and I loved being able to contribute to something that so many kids will benefit from one day. As I said before, everyone we encountered was so passionate about what they were doing and seeing that passion through caring for all those kids was something I will always remember. I want to find something, whether it’s a future job or just a volunteer position that I can put my heart into like those at the children’s center. If everyone had that kind of dedication, then the world would be a much happier place. The next instance that I will carry with me was listening to Luvuyo Rani’s story of how he started a company from absolutely nothing and is now very successful. He’s a hero! He’s making a difference in so many people’s lives! Not just for this generation, but for the generations to come. We were all so amazed with his story. He saw an opportunity to better his community and he capitalized on it. The people of South Africa have so many more entrepreneurial opportunities than we do here at home. It may sound lame, but I’ve caught myself seeing something or listening to someone and just being like man that would make such an awesome business, or that would be able to help so many people if executed correctly.
South Africa has a very special place in my heart now and I will definitely be going back as soon as I get the chance! Some of our new friends from Stuart’s entrepreneurial program have been commenting on my pictures and saying how much they miss us already and it is only making me miss that place more. I had a great time and grew so much on the trip and my pictures do not put into words how beautiful that country is. During our time there, everything revolved back to finding your purpose in life and how you can help those around you. The people of South Africa want change. They want change for their children and for their country and after meeting some of the people we did, I know South Africa will only continue to grow. I can’t wait to go back, only this time I’ll save up for a first class seat.