Looking Back, Now Looking Forward

The trip to South Africa has drastically changed the way I view the world.  My perspective of how big this world really is has shifted since going to Africa.  I honestly do not think I could have gained this new perspective without traveling a long ways from home.  It is something I and most other kids learn as we move through childhood.  As a young kid I thought that the world revolved around me.  As I aged and grew I started to see that the world was a little bit bigger than my yard and my pre-school playground.  Every year my perspective grew bigger with every inch I grew.  One thing I think I always missed until the trip was just how many people there were in the world trying to make their life matter just like mine.  I think inside of every person is a purpose and a need to make the time that we have on earth count.  With out going on to South Africa and taking the classes I took, I think I would have missed this important lesson.  This may not be completely right, but I think the life that is used to its full potential.  Is the life that is lived out to help others make the most of their life.  The mix of everything on the trip from; the classes, to volunteering at Philippi, and traveling around the Cape.  All these experiences helped me see this.  I have to give Stuart a big thanks for being the perfect model of this lesson.  He is an extremely smart and driven man, and he spending his precious time on earth helping those who are less fortunate than him.  No matter what I end up doing for the rest of my life, I want to helping people make the most of their life. 

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UCT, Leadership and Needs

Day two of classes was a long but very insightful day.  Our group had the pleasure of going to sit in a class room at the University of Cape Town.  We were blessed enough to have the great Stuart Hendry back to lecture us on leadership.  After learning on day one about purpose, Stuart took a step deeper and talked about how human needs are directly linked to the quality of life.  We all have fundamental needs and those needs are what drives us.  Stuart used a studied done by Max Neef that theoretically predicted the fundamental needs that every human has.  There are nine: Subsistence, Protection, Affection, Understanding, Participation, Creation, Idleness, Identity, and Freedom.  We all as humans seek to fulfill these needs and if they are not fulfilled then we are intrinsically impoverished.  

My favorite part of the day was when some of the students from the UCT spoke to us.  They were taking one of Stuart’s entrepreneurial classes at the University.  Each group of students that spoke to us had been working all semester on some type of entrepreneurial idea to start a business.  These students were full of ambition and a passion for their project.  They each proposed their ideas in a way that I could tell they had more invested in their project than just to get a grade.  These students truly believed in their product or service and wanted it to make a difference in South Africa.  

The main thing I can take away from day 2 of classes is a new perspective that there is business needs all around the world.  It just takes a person with a passion and an imagination big enough to dream that they can make a difference. 

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Kyle Shirley

Table Mouttain

Looking from the top of Table Mountain after riding the cable car was a great, but after a two hour hike to the top I appreciated the view much more.  After the group left me and Dylan stranded at the hotel lobby while they took the taxi to hike the trail.  We hoped in a Taxi of our own and headed for a trail.  We rationalized being late and getting left by saying that it would be a better work out for us to race to catch up with the rest of the group.  Little did we know that there was more than one trail to the top of Table Mountain.  With a little help from taxi driver and some locals who could easily pick 15 American college students headed to hike, then pointed us in the right direction.  Me and Dylan set off up the trail and in no time we ran in to the struggling Dr. Turner and Alex.  We left the stragglers behind and kept on trucking to see if we could catch the leaders.  It wasn’t an easily task hiking up steps that seemed to go straight up forever without ever having a level place anywhere.  I think it’s safe to say even the great Rocky Balboa couldn’t run all the way up these steps and finish with his hands lifted high.  After about 2 and a half hours though we made it to the top.  The second time looking out over the mountain might have been even better than the first.

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Kyle Shirley

Stellenbosch

The Monday morning trip to Stellenbosch was the first event that I was not really prepared for. On the nearly 1 hour bus ride to the little city outside of Cape Town I thought, “The only thing I really know about Stellenbosch is that the jelly i ate in the morning was made there.”  SInce we were going on a wine tour, I figured that there must a ton of vineyards and beautiful wineries.  

When we rolled into town, our tour guides met us as soon as we stepped off the bus. and we were on our way walking around and learning the history of a city whose name I had heard for the first time just a few days ago.  Stellenbosch was an old town built with Dutch architecture. This meant that almost every house we walked by on the street was white washed with some type of straw room.

After acclimating to the town and some of it’s history our group sat down for the first wine tasting session.  I can’t really call myself a wine connoisseur, so everything i tried tasted the exact same.  My good friend Cam though did teach me that if you spin the wine around the glass and watch it run down the side, it creates what the expects call “legs”.  According to Cam the longer the legs are, the better the wine is. As soon as I was cultured in my first wine tasting, the group headed over to get some tea.  I must say it was great traveling half way around the world to have a tea party.  Millions of little girls around the earth would’ve been jealous of the tea party we had. 

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The last place we visited in Stellenbosch was out of the town and out in the true wine country.  The best part about this winery was the view.  It was one of those views that would never get old no matter how long you looked.

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Day 1- Kyle Shirley

Taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain

Taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain

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Looking North on the top of Table Montain

The first day started suddenly when i woke up wondering where in the world I was.  It took me a few seconds and a look out my hotel window to remember i had just my way across the Atlantic ocean the day before and I was in Africa for the first time in my life.  It finally hit me that I was actually in Africa!

From the hotel room everyone on our trip from PC went down to a meeting room on the first floor.  We met Stuart Hendry there who thought us of the incredible history of South Africa.  Stuart talked spoke on Purpose and how having a purpose in life gives our life meaning.  Purpose is what wakes us up in the morning and keeps us going all day.  Stuart challenged us to figure out what our purpose is in life.  What I discovered along with Stuart’s help was that many young people are not living their own purpose out, we are just doing what the world says we are supposed to do.  A true leader though is somebody that rises above that and discovers their own passion and purpose for the reason they are on this earth

After Stuart’s talks we had lunch and took taxi to the base of table mountain.  From there we took a cable car to the top.  The view from the top of the mountain was absolutely breath taking.  It was odd for me to be on top of a huge mountain right beside the ocean. This is something i was unaccustomed to being in the states on the east coast, where the beaches are a days drive away from the ocean.

I’m excited for the times to come and the sights to see over the next week!

Kyle

After finally finishing Nelson Mandela’s book A Long

After finally finishing Nelson Mandela’s book A Long Walk To Freedom, my perspective about South Africa has shifted significantly.  The first thing that really blew me away about Mandela is his extremely willingness to forgive and move forward for the betterment of South Africa.  After spending the amount of time in prison at Robin Island, i can’t imagine how he managed to remove all hatred from his heart.  The resilience of Nelson Mandela is something to be admired and honored.  The reason he has had such a great impact on the people around him is because of his ability to see beyond his own circumstances.  Nelson Mandela always kept in mind the grand perspective of the people of South Africa and the best for his country.  

 

The second thing that amazed me was the impact that Nelson Mandela had on a nation that was divided and corrupt.  His ability to lead a people who had been divided by an apartheid  for years, found a way to pull everyone one together.  He helped make the people of South Africa come together and be proud to be a South African.  Mandela empowered every person whether black, white, or oriental to have pride in their country.

 

Reading the book changed my perspective about South Africa because i never really knew about the tension between the races.  As an American i never realized that racial tension extended beyond America.  It is amazing to see the how South African people and American people moved past their differences and see the bigger perspective.  

Pre-Trip Expectations

The fact that I am going to be in Cape Town South Africa in a few short weeks is just now beginning to settle in and become a reality.  With this current tough week of exams, the only thing that has kept me motivated to complete my school work is knowing that i’ll soon be on a trip to South Africa.  The only thing that stands in the way now is reading over 800 pages on books about South Africa and sitting on a plane to get half way around the planet.

Africa in general has sparked my interest for the past few years. The most exciting thing for me as I sit in a crowded library typing this up, is just to be out of good ole “PC college” and in a place I’ve never been. As the trip draws closer I will be getting more and more excited about things like hiking table rock and going on my first safari. Don’t know much about rugby but I can imagine from what I’ve seen on TV it’s going to be a hyped event in the city.

Now the wait is on!

Cape Town

Cape Town (Photo credit: fabulousfabs)