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.
Since leaving South Africa, all I wanna do it go back!! I had such a blast on our trip and made really meaningful connections with people that I wouldn’t have been able to other wise–students and professors. Things in Africa are truly different than they are here. Besides the 19 hr flight, I’d book my trip back in a heart beat.
This was an interesting article I saw since returning. It really encompasses how different things are in S. Africa. They are behind us in a real way- http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/31/world/africa/south-africa-kleinfontein-apartheid-nkepile-mabuse/index.html?hpt=hp_c4
Enjoy some of my favorite pictures from the trip!
Zebra at Aquila Lodge
At Dornier in the Wine Country of Stellenbosch
Moon at Sun rise at Aquila Lodge
Elephants playing at Aquila Lodge
View of Camp’s Bay
Cape Point at the Cape of Good Hope
Group Picture at Hout Bay
Like I previously mentioned, South Africa is behind in so many ways compared to the USA. I think this may sound like an obvious observation, but it is something that I understand even more now that I have been to the country. Since the apartheid government’s rule only ended 20 years ago. This is a short span for the country to catch up in terms of racial equality. The link I posted shows a depiction of how some communities continue to live-even today under ANC (African National Party) rule. Another very interesting point that was brought to my attention was that black people in S. Africa were never given the opportunities that the white people were given. This includes work experience and education. When the ANC came into rule, black citizens were all the sudden given the jobs they always longed to have–without the work experience and education. Because of this, I think some of the countries development has been slowed down.
I can’t wait until I return to S.Africa! We should do a reunion trip! Somehow I just need to come up with the funds!
Had an amazing time! Dr. Turner, his wife, Nancy, DAD (Mike), Stuart, Alex, and everyone else who contributed to our experience are sincerely appreciated!
Thursday, our group toured the surrounding part of the western cape outside of Cape Town. I can honestly say that this is the most beautiful country I have ever been to. Our first stop was False Bay. A beautiful town on the bay that was initially thought to be Cape Town when first discovered many years ago. Our stop was brief, but its culture and beauty was obvious.
Our next stop took us to Boulders Beach which is the home to beach penguins! We were able to observe the penguins in their natural habitat on the beach and of course take a million pictures. It was the first time I have seen penguins in front of my eyes. The town actually had “penguin crossing” signs by the roads. America’s version of deer x-ing.
After we spotted the penguins, we hopped back on our adventure bus to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south western tip of South Africa. We took a short hike to Cape Point where a light house is on the water signaling your arrival to the point. And that short hike was actually quite exhausting!
If you have every watched shark week, I am sure you have seen or heard of the place we went next-Hout Bay. At Hout Bay we boarded a ship to Seal Island-the prime feeding area for great white sharks off the coast of Cape Town! The seals were an awesome sight swimming through the icy cold water. If I could ship a couple of those penguins and seals back to the US with me I would!
On our final academic day, Friday, we were able to hear from half a dozen entrepreneurs who have been able to dream big and act on it. Our early morning session had a sustainable tourism speaker teach us about ways we can use the environment without using up our wonderful resources-the perfect way for places like South Africa to capitalize on its beauty. An inspiring man named Luvoyo from a large and impoverished township called Kyletshya spoke with us about his venture into entrepreneurship. Luvoyo saw the need for public wifi in his township and opened a business offering Internet for a small fee. His business grew quickly and the demand for business services, computer training, and IT training were all implemented to meet his consumers needs. Now his business consists of about 30 locations around South Africa and they are looking to expand. His story as unbelievable! Next, we took some taxis into a part of the western cape called Woodstock. In Woodstock we were able to see a building that is the home for several entrepreneurs in all stages of their businesses. The location provides a hub for like-minds to grow together in the perfect environment. Nothing can make you feel like you are doing nothing with your life more than to hear all these people tell you about their dreams and what so many of them have already achieved in such a short amount of time. If I can not learned anything else from this trip, I have learned that South Africa is a country with potential and unfathomable opportunity.
Our trip has FLOWN by. I look forward to the upcoming rugby match and the safari that we are going on in the next few days! Until then!
This morning the class met to reflect on all the lessons we have learned since our first day in Cape Town. Our academic classes are coming to an end after today, and I feel as though I have been a sponge the past few days. I have learned more since I have been in Cape Town than I think I did all spring semester-in a real life context.
Our first session today, Kevin Chaplin, spoke with us on Ubuntu and what it means to be a person through other people. Ubuntu means having a respect and understanding for others and recognizing the human being in others. You can practice Ubuntu by caring for others and helping others care for themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin’s talk with us and plan to keep in touch with him in the future. He has such a successful and contagious demeanor.
Another visitor spoke with our class today about violence in opposition to community development and why people commit violence. He said that violence can be an enjoyable act if you have certain genetic markers. Kossi was an Ohio state grad- the first person in her family to finish any formal schooling. She was incredibly impressive in everything she had to share about Cape Town, violence, and townships.
This is only a small representation of how today impacted me. I can’t help but think about how much I am going to miss this place and this culture once we have to go home.
Never in my life have I ever been as constantly full as I have been in Cape Town. And yes, I am talking about food! The Southern Sun hotel has the greatest hotel breakfast and I have been able to feast on smoked salmon, olives, and feta every morning. South Africans are also very fond of “tea time”- a break during the day to enjoy coffee, tea, muffins, or fruit. It is a perfect time for rejuvenation that PC should definitely adopt during the school year.
Since my last update, I have been able to explore Cape Town and the surrounding and have seen some of the most beautiful sights. Once I find my way to a proper computer, I will upload all of my pictures to Facebook. On Sunday, Ashton and I took a solo trip to Camps Bay which is also known as the Malibu of Cape Town. The bay had unbelievable views and contained its very own Blue Flag beach-which means it is denoted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From the beach we were able to see the unbelievable mountains that overlook all of Cape Town. Just as the rest of Cape Town, Camps Bay was full of Mercedes, Ferraris, Maseratis, and other ridiculously expensive cars.
The following day, we ventured to the wine country outside of Cape Town called Stellenbosch. We were able to tour the quant town and learn about its history while stopping at small wine and tea shops to taste their selections. We also got to taste authentic beef jerky called biltonge. At the conclusion of the tour of the down town of Stellenbosch, we got the have local South African cuisine, dessert tastings and more wine! Andrew Kocis was kind enough to set up a meeting with a branch of his uncle’s company outside of Stellenbosch. We were able to learn about the financial analyst business with a unique competitive edge on its other competitors around the world since they technically are able to have a 16 hour work day with its home office in New Jersey. Dornier was our final wine tasting stop at a large wine farm and breathtaking views of the mountains and vineyards. The highlight of my evening was our dinner. We were able to enjoy an authentic South African buffet style dinner with face paintings and African songs and dancing. For one of the first times on the trip so far, I felt like I was actually in Africa.
Today our class was able to make a very special trip to the town ship of Phillipi. Townships are an interesting concept that I never fully understand or even knew about until I was able to experience them for myself. They are somewhat impoverished communities that form their own “town” of sorts within themselves. The houses can range from tin shacks to larger and wealthier homes. These towns can be separated by only a small dividing line and the pride within the townships runs very high. In Phillipi we visited a small youth center that as being renovated and rebuilt by SASDI for children under the age of six. SASDI is the South African Sustainable Development Initiative that strives to build South Africa through its children-starting with education for children in their earliest years-the most important building years in a child’s life. At the site we were all assigned jobs to help in the construction of the job site. I was automatically nominated to paint since I am a girl-a job that I would later be very glad to have after seeing the guy’s tough manual labor. The children at the site were ecstatic to see us and eager to play at any chance they were given. They all wanted to be held and were starving for attention all from all of us strange American visitors. It was actually quite amusing. I quickly noticed that the African workers that we were assisting did not seem very enthused to have volunteers. Dr. Turner put it well when he pointed out that our volunteering may have been keeping some of their brothers or friends out of work. But on the flip side, our volunteering was going to get the job done in the most efficient and effective way. It was very humbling to see how much our contributions meant to the school and its principal and teachers as well as the SASDI people. During my long hot shower after our hard days of work, it was hard to imagine that all those children and teachers from the township were probably not about going to home and take a hot shower as well. I quickly realized I may take things like that for granted.
Hope you enjoy the update with the new pictures! More to come soon!
Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. So far we have had an awesome lecturer, Stuart, speak with us on leadership in South Africa and and entrepreneurship. Saturday we went to the university of Cape Town and talked about Max Neefs 9 fundamental human needs. Students from Cape Town also came and pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to us. Cape Town university is an amazingly pretty campus with great views of the mountains.
We have also had some of the best seafood ever! Ashton, Katharine Anne, Cam and I all went to the waterfront to eat at a place called the Greek Fisherman.
I’m looking forward to going to Stellenbosch for wine tasting tomorrow! More updates to come!
I’ve always known that Nelson Mandela was an incredibly influential man in South Africa, but I have to say that I did not fully understand the impact that he had on his country. It is incredible to see the impact that one man can make through his vision. A vision that so many others shared to end the apartheid in South Africa. Mandela wanted to see a country that granted equal rights to all of its people. This is the same vision that Martin Luther King Jr. had for black Americans in the United States.
My outlook on South Africa and its history had been altered since reading Mandela’s accounts in the his home country. Previously, I had no knowledge of South Africa or their history. It was enlightening to see Mandela’s modest upbringings in a small village under the care of the regent and his prestigious education in several different schools and universities around South Africa. I was also very impressed with Mandela’s drive and courage to keep his leadership role within the ANC and then The People’s Congress to lead others into a life of freedom that can be enjoyed today.
I am ecstatic to arrive in South Africa and see first hand all the courage and effort that has gone into bringing the country into liberation. Mandela truly is an inspiration and hero in his country.