South African Maymester Final Assignment

I’ve never really thought much about my worldview before. On issues that I am concerned about, I knew where I stand and where the people around me stand. But now, I see that the issues I’ve thought long and hard about would be issues that some people don’t even have to opportunity to think about. I had never travelled to somewhere where the ideas of the people around me would be different than mine. I really haven’t encountered many people that were that much different that I am until this adventure.  It was absolutely eye-opening to be able to see the range from the rich to the poor. I was so inspired to see how much drive and enthusiasm people have that I don’t see very often at here in America.

Of course you know about the poor people, you see them on the street begging. You know they probably have a family in an alley somewhere and you hope the $5 you gave them goes to food for the family and not to a drug addiction. But you don’t know, so you probably don’t give them the money even though you have plenty of change to spare, you don’t want to take the risk. I know because that is me. Unless I’ve really been inspired lately, if I see someone begging, I won’t give them any money. “It’s too dangerous” I tell myself, as if every struggling person living on the streets is going to murder me if I approached them to give them money. It’s horrible to know that people are living in such terrible conditions. But in South Africa, it is so much worse. In America, these people are free. In South Africa, twenty years ago, there people weren’t as lucky. During Apartheid, non-white people were evicted from their homes and forced to live packed together in townships. You can not even imagine how atrocious townships are. Since Apartheid ended so recently, townships are still thriving, with no improvement in the conditions. It’s unbelievable that some people are living their whole lives not having left their township. I never knew such horrendous conditions were possible in a world of technology; surely someone would’ve noticed by now and cleaned it right up. Don’t get me wrong, people are working on it, it’s just hard because the older generations, basically anyone raised before democracy, are used to what they’re living in and don’t see that it could be so much better.

Luckily, younger entrepreneurs are emerging and have started to blossom. Luvuyo Rani was so inspirational and it was an honor to have him speak to us, silly Americans, because he’s become a wonder. He was born in a township and lived there throughout his schooling and working to pay for college. He realized that there was a need for a place where people in townships could go a print or use the internet or even learn how to use a computer. He started a business, Silulo Ulutho Technologies, and became very successful. He taught us to spot opportunity. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been looking for opportunity left and right. I’ve been applying for jobs in every direction hoping something sticks and I hope I am able to become as passionate about it as Rani is about technology. Almost a month after hearing him speak and I’m still inspired to start a business and make a difference like he has.

Making a difference is something I aspire to do. I want to be able to change people’s lives, and this trip has really inspired me and made me realize that I have the potential to do so. Potential is probably one of the most meaningful words to me. I constantly remind myself that I have potential, but I didn’t really know where I was going with it. Kevin Chaplin really helped out with that. He is really focused on ubuntu. Ubuntu is the universal concept that I am a person because of other people; it is the potential of being a human. I realize that want to take my strengths and combine it with others to change lives. Since I returned home, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I could do this. I’m still working on the big picture, but on a daily basis I’ve really improved.  I try to think about my actions before I do them and perform tasks at a small scale to make a difference until I can do so at a large scale. I know the small things that I do don’t make a difference to the world, but to one person, the difference can mean the world. And with that I realize that I can and I am making a difference that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t go on this Maymester.

Another thing that really changed me was a phrase that Kevin Chaplin also used: “be happy anyway.” It made me realize that even when life gets you down, be happy anyway. For me, the past year has been rough, to say the least, a lot of ups and downs but mostly downs. When Kevin was talking about things that weren’t so great, but you should be happy anyway, I realized how much that applied to me, too. With everything that I’ve been through, I am supposed to forgive myself and others and be happy anyway. All thanks to Kevin’s lecture, I’ve been able to make great strides in my personal happiness and happiness with others. Now, I see the world as a brighter place with more potential for happiness than for failure. I’ve learned to see things with more beauty and clarity that I didn’t notice before. I see potential in many more places and I am inspired to do something instead of letting it be.

I really do feel like I’ve been inspired to be a better and happier person. Even though there is such great poverty in the world, I am now aware that it really does exist. I know that even if I can’t fix it or create world peace, I can and have the potential to make a difference in someone’s life.  I’ve really learned to think about my actions and not only how they affect me but how they affect those around me. I’ve made great steps toward becoming a better person and finding peace and happiness within myself, which them spreads to those around me. As Kevin Chaplin also said, “attitudes are contagious” and I want to make sure that everyone wants to catch my attitude.


daily posts

Sunday started with us getting up and going to church. We attended the 10 AM Morning service at St. James Church. It is Stu’s home church so he met us there before the service. The members of the church were so welcoming and even cracked a joke at Stu for bringing a bunch of his American friends to church. The service was beautiful and not very unlike my church at home except St. James is much more modern with a lot of contemporary music and technology involved in the service. After, we gathered with members of the church that are the same age as we are. We talked about America mostly, several have already visited and most are planning to visit in the future, so that was pretty cool! Before the trip, we learned about St. James Church and the massacre that took place there in 1993. It was powerful to be in the place where such a tragedy happened and potentially see people who were actually there that day.

In the afternoon, we were given the option to hike Table Mountain and I did not want to miss it. Table Mountain is 1088 meters in height, which is 3569 ½ feet, I’ve never hiked anything close to this size before now. In the taxi on the way to the mountain, we asked the driver about the hike. He said he, someone in poor physical health, could hike in an hour and his son could hike in thirty minutes. We had this taxi driver a few times already so we trusted his expected hiking time. Boy, were we in for a surprise.  I expected a pathway curving and turning all the way up the mountain. As soon as we began climbing did I realize this was going to be quite different. It was more like a giant staircase made of rock and in some places I found myself crawling.  We saw many people on our journey upward including people jogging up or down and a couple who told us that the cable car (that was going to take us down once we made it to the top) wasn’t working today and we should just stop and head back down. This was not true and I didn’t think that it was very funny.  After SEVERAL HOURS we finally made it to the top and spent a lot of time in the gift shop relaxing and shopping. I am very proud of those of us who hiked and might consider hiking it again… but not anytime soon.

On Monday we went to Stellenbosch.  It was absolutely amazing and we really were spoiled rotten today. We split into two groups and began our tours. First, we went to a butchery where there was so much meat hanging for the ceiling, a sight I had seen nothing like until now. Our tour guide picked up a bag of something for us and we went on our way. Then my group visited a cute little wine place called Brampton – The Wine Studio, it is kind of like a café but only for wine. We tasted several wines and my favorite was definitely the Rosé. The meat that our tour guide picked up was for us to try in between wines. She brought dried biltong and springbok. I was only adventurous enough to try one and it wasn’t as horrible as it looked. Next we went to a tea café where we had a tea party. I do not like hot tea at all but I tried every cup we were supposed to taste—with a lot of extra sugar I added myself! Then we did a lot more walking around the town and saw places like a haunted bookstore, several churches, the “Angel Factory” (seminary), and the oldest house! The oldest house was really interesting; it was built in 1709, I think, and survived the many fires that consumed the town. Speaking for fires, in the center of town there is actually a large open area just for the purpose of having a safe place to go in the town started to burn down! We then had lunch in the oldest hotel in Stellenbosch. Lunch included a tasting of several small portions of South Africa meals like biltong, a ground beef mixture, rice with curry, a tiny salad, sautéed vegetables and mushroom gravy on pie crust. Everything was delicious but I don’t think biltong is my thing. We can’t forget dessert! We got on the buses this time to travel to a dessert café where we tried two more wines, one of which was a dessert wine, and several small portions for dessert. It was all absolutely delicious. Next we took a little break for the luxury and actually did some learning. Andrew’s uncle started a business, The Burgiss Group, and there is a branch in Stellenbosch so we went in for a visit. We were a probably the most rowdy thing that office has seen in a while so we didn’t stay too long. The Burgiss Group is a company that handles data analysis and provides portfolio management software it is clients. It was actually the most progressive office I’ve ever seen because it actually seemed like it let its employees express themselves. By that I simply mean that I expected the employees to be dressed more professionally, that’s all. Back to the buses we went, and onward to the vineyards, to Donier Wines. It was unbelievably beautiful, even though it was the beginning for autumn and the plants, especially the vines, were beginning to have a deathly appearance. Nevertheless, we enjoyed tasting several more wines, and I found all of the wines here to e absolutely delicious. But wait, our day still isn’t over. Last, we went to a super traditionally African restaurant for dinner, Moyo. There was a buffet and we were outside with traditional decorations and dancers! They even invited all their guests on stage to dance. Watching the boys in our group dance was hilarious and I hope they all remember their new dance moves.

Earlier we learned from Stu about the work he is doing with SASDI (South African Sustainable Development Initiative). On Tuesday we went to the township of Philippi to give some of our time helping the construction of a school for children under the age of seven. We were severely unprepared for the work we were about to do but we did it anyway. The girls we given hard hats, gloves, safety goggles, a mask to cover our mouths, rollers and buckets and buckets of paint. They told us where to paint and we got to work. Though it wasn’t easy to paint walls all day long, it was not nearly as strenuous as the boys. They were making cement, moving it in wheelbarrows and knocking down walls. I was especially glad to be a woman today. We worked all day long, but got to take breaks for tea time and to play with the kids. The kids were great. I love kids, especially those ages. They’re so young and innocent, but I know these kids have seen things while living in the townships that I’ve been so fortunate to not see them. Bless their hearts. It was a good experience to help out the little that we could for just that one day.

On Wednesday, we spent a lot of time in the classroom. We started with a speaker, Kevin Chaplin. His lecture was titled “Lessons Shares from the Corporate World to the SA Ubuntu” and he also talked about the Amy Biehl Foundation. We learned a lot of good advice basically. For example, if you have the right attitude, you will make it. He emphasized that vision is critical, you have to believe in yourself and believe in your business. You need to over-communicate. You need to focus. THINK BIG. He discussed the Four Legs of the Table for success. These legs are administration/finances, branding/the product/marketing, people, and corporate social investment/responsibility. You absolutely have to have grace under pressure and there is no such thing as can’t. I thought it was a good presentation. We got a break for lunch and we also squeezed in a nap. The next speaker was Dr. Leon Holtzhausen, a professor in the Department of Social Development at the University of Cape Town. He spoke about “This Impact of Community Violence on Community Development.” I thought he was the most engaging of the speakers because he immediately asked each of us to tell him our name, where we are from and to ask a question we had. This quickly caught my attention instead of the usual throwing of words that you sometimes get when you listen to a lecture. He was so involved that the only note I took was the word “machsismo.” I actually have no idea why I wrote that or what it means! I might’ve meant machismo, which would make more sense than this word I potentially made up since we were talking about violence and economic status. We had another break and then we got back for one more lecture. Kevin Chaplin was back for more. This time we discussed “Living Your Business and Personal Life with the Spirit of Ubuntu, A Practical Approach to Success” Ubuntu. Ubuntu ngumuntu ngabanya Abantu.  All this is a universal idea that I am a person because of other people. I have the potential of being a human being because of other human beings. It means to be fair and compassionate and empathetic to all. It comes from the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching? At the beginning of a task, your attitude really determines the success of the task. Do you wake up in the morning and say “Good Lord, it’s morning” or do you say “Good morning, Lord”? I feel like this lecture was a glorified pep talk, and it was very nice to have. Don’t walk away from negative people… RUN. Have unlimited enthusiasm. Forgive yourself and others. Act like a winner. The three R’s:  resolve, refrain, react. Make a difference, even if it is only for one person at a time. Accept change. The only aspect of the future that is guaranteed is change. Be honest and frank. Be happy anyways. We learned about WATCH: Words, Attitude, Thoughts, Company, Heart. And we learned ways to boost your happiness. This was a very fulfilling lecture.

Thursday was a big tourist day. Today we got a ride for the first time in South Africa a charter bus. We all got in and began our day’s journey to Cape Point, the most southwestern point in Africa. We had some stops on the way. First, we stopped in a beautiful tiny seaside town full of boutiques and art galleries. It was nice to look at all the unique things made right here in Africa. I liked the pottery made from actual tires. We got back on the bus and headed further south. Our next stop was Boulder’s Beach. Boulder’s Beach is just what it sounds like but better. There are obviously boulders but there were also penguins! I never knew that there could be warm weather penguins! We took tons of pictures. We settled onto the bus yet again and headed finally to Cape Point. Here we had the opportunity to hike to the top and see absolutely everything. It was a clear beautiful day so the view was wonderful. It was a great feeling to being up there seeing the mountain and the ocean and know you’re at the tip. On the way back to town we stopped at Hout Bay. Hout Bay is a major port for fishing. We didn’t know what we were getting into when we got on a boat. We were headed to Seal Island! The seals were amazing but very stinky. It took several minutes of controlled breathing to get used to the smell so we could enjoy the seals. They were massive creatures, and they also had personalities. When they saw the boat coming, a bunch of them got into the water and started swimming and splashing around.

Friday started with a lecture from Ali Meadows. She spoke about sustainable tourism. South Africa is a world within one country, the people and the places are diverse and important. It is critical to narrow the gap between the poor and the rich. She taught us the precautionary principle which is that if you can’t fully measure the impact of something, don’t do it. We discussed how many resources that Africa has that haven’t been used. Tourism is 9% of the world’s GDP, that’s a good chunk. There’s a lot of good tourism, but there is also bad, like whaling.  We need to make the move to ecotourism. We need to focus on using natural resources, being low-impact, non-consumptive, educational, we need to contribute and conserve, involve local communities and be ethically managed. A big point was to take only pictures, leave only footprints. Then we heard from Luvuyo Rani, a business owner that used to live in a township. He started Silulo Ulutho Technologies, a company that provides internet cafés and computer lessons. He was quite an inspiration. He emphasized that we need to know how to spot opportunities and that the three most important things are focus, energy and passion. In the afternoon we toured a company that gives entrepreneurs a place to start their business. You can rent office space and even have connections with business experts to help you start and be successful. It was really cool to see how people in this company work together and I sure hope there is something like this at home.

In the morning Saturday, we had the day off. Most of us walked to Green Market Street where there in fact was a market. It was your basic tourist trap where you bargain with the sellers but it was fun none the less. It was so hard to control spending here but because it was in Rands, I really wasn’t aware of just how much I spent until later! The bargaining was something I had never done before but it was kind of cool. The first time I bargained with someone I don’t think I did a very good job, but I did well the rest of the time. I came out with a new dress, three paintings, a bracelet for each of my sisters and a sling shot for my brother. In the afternoon, we had tickets for a rugby game! Before the game, we went to Toad’s, kind of like a sports bar, and we got to just hang out and chill with each other, it was a lot of fun. Then we walked over to the stadium. Watching rugby was very interesting. Since not many of us in the group knew the rules, I felt like there was just a bunch of staring trying to figure out what was going on. But we knew which was our team (GO STORMERS) and we knew to cheer when the people around us cheered. It was really fun!

Sunday was our last day in Cape Town. It was really sad to pack up all of our stuff and load it on the bus, but we were off to see big things. The Big Five actually. The Big Five are the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino and leopard. We were headed to Aquila Game Reserve. It was the first really cold day of fall and it was rainy most of the day so it was easy to sleep on bus ride there. The drive was through beautiful mountains so I didn’t sleep the whole time. When we got there the visibility was very poor because of the rain. We checked in and they gave us all a glass of champagne! We went to set up our stuff in our rooms before it was time for our 4 PM game drive. The game drive was so cold and so rainy and you really couldn’t see far into the distance at all. It was a two hour drive through the property. Even though the conditions were terrible, we still got to see the animals! We saw springbok, rhinos, zebras, ostriches, lions, wildebeest, buffalo and the only giraffe. We were lucky to see it because it’s the only one on the whole reserve! It’s the only one because its parents fell off a mountain and broke their necks.  The visibility was so bad that our driver told us that he was actually scared to go into the lion enclosure! We went in anyway but didn’t stay long. We went back cold and went but satisfied and ready for dinner. After a leisurely dinner, we all gathered to just hang out, play a trivia game about Africa, and reminisce about the trip together on our last night. We headed to bed at a decent hour because we had another game drive in the morning, at 6 AM! It was even colder in the morning but it was clear and gorgeous. The moon was still out as we got to watch the sunrise with all the animals, including ones we hadn’t seen yet. We got to see hippos and I really liked them. It was so cold and it was kind of miserable to be honest, especially when we kept driving by the same spot three times. But the last time we drove by that spot… elephants! They weren’t as big as I thought they would be but they were great. They were so cute and playful with each other and the pictures I took of them were great with the sun in the background rising behind the mountains. We then went to the enclosure where they keep the injured or sick animals to nurse the back to health. There we saw a lion up close and personal. We also saw a leopard and a cheetah. Memories that will last forever, I’m sure.

Unfortunately, as soon as we returned from the drive, it was breakfast time and then time to pack up and head for the airport. We left from the airport in Cape Town, to Johanesburg, to D.C. and then to Greenville. But I had to travel more. I then had to get on another plane to Atlanta and then to Tallahassee. We started travelling at 8 AM America time Monday and I arrived at home 5 PM Tueday. And THEN I had to go to my sister’s graduation.

Overall, that was a life changing experience and I would do it again in an instant.

The Beginning

Arriving in South Africa was quite a struggle. On Tuesday, I first had to travel from home to Greenville/Spartanburg to meet up with the class, so that put me at about 6 hours of airport/airplane time already. And then it was Wednesday… I got to the airport at 10:30 am Eastern Time and we officially arrived in Cape Town at 4:30 pm Eastern Time on Thursday (10:30 pm in Cape Town). So that was 30 hours of airport/airplane time. The flights to Charlotte and then to D.C. weren’t bad, although I was in the very last row both times! The international flight was not as bad as I thought it was, but there is no way I will ever do it again just for fun. Thank goodness I had an aisle seat otherwise it wouldn’t have gone so smoothly. The flight served us dinner (a beef/curry/rice mixture) pretty soon after take-off and everybody got settled in for the night, watching movies and trying to get some sleep. After about 7 or 8 hours, we landed in Dakar, Senegal to refuel and drop off some passengers and pick up some others. Since this is a country where yellow fever is present, we were not allowed off the plane, and I’m pretty sure they had to spray the people coming onto the plane with DEET which made me nervous if they missed something! (but I am not 100% sure because I was in the 70th row!).  The break was nice because we all got to stand up for about an hour and socialize. Once it was time to take off again, it was breakfast time (pancakes rolled up with blueberries inside). We all tried to sleep more and wait out the 6 or 7 more hours left to go. Lunch was also provided, but by that time, dinner and breakfast weren’t feeling too good so I just ate the biscuit. I slept on and off the whole flight with a sprinkling of 3 movies from the little TV on the back of the seat in front of me. Finally we arrived!… in Johannesburg. We had about a 3 or 4 hour layover until our flight to Cape Town. We spent that time going through customs (not as scary as I thought it would be) and running around the airport confused and lead by a man whose job it is to direct us where to go (who expected a bunch of tips once he got us to security). We also had out first meal officially in South Africa. A few of my friends and I ate at Wimpy Burger, which was kind of like the burgers you get at T.G.I.Friday’s or Applebees. It was delicious to have real food finally! The burgers came with tomato relish instead of pickles and we learned that the ketchup here is much watery and sweeter. The Coca-Cola is also much sweeter. Eventually it was time to get on our final plane. The flight was 2 hours but we were all so exhausted that I think we all slept the whole flight. When we finally got to leave an airport after 30 hours, I got really excited! We made it! I never thought I would be in South Africa, and here I am! A bus took us to the hotel where Dr. Turner met up with us for the first time; he was much more energetic than we were because he has been here for several days already. My roommates and I were showered and in bed by midnight.

Our International Flight

Our first official day started with breakfast at 8 am and class started about 8:45 am in a conference room of the hotel (let’s just keep in mind that it’s 2 am at home). This is when we first met Stu Hendry. Stu is a professor at the University of Cape Town. He holds degrees in many things including law, but he is seriously focused on teaching leadership and entrepreneurship. The first notes I took from his lectures that day was about how a good leader equals good things and that leadership development is key. Small business is also unbelievably important to all, especially in South Africa. Small business contributes to 40% of South Africa’s GDP and 50% of the population is involved with small business. He taught us a lot of the history of South Africa and Cape Town, including several fun facts like Afrikaans (spoken by most South Africans) is the youngest language of the world and South Africa had 11 official languages, 20 ethnic groups, and over 50 million people. Afrikaans sounds like a beautiful language, especially since the heritage is Dutch, but most people also know English because you can communicate with the most variety of people with it. We learned more about South Africa including the fact that 60% of South Africans can’t read which absolutely blew my mind! How can so few people know how to read is such a modern time such as the 21st century?? He showed us a graph about effective government with character of civil society on one axis, ranging from disengaged to engaged, and capacity of state on the other axis, ranging from ineffective to effective. This graph was similar to a graph I learned about in Dr. Lipford’s Comparative Economic Systems class this past semester- just something to picture in your head if you’re reading this and you also took that class. Something that really stuck out to me was a quote, from whom I don’t remember, but it was “if you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.” It really displayed to me the importance of teamwork and communication that is critical is any relationship regardless of if it is just between two people or a government and its citizens. Next we took some time to work on our Sunrise Exercise which is a packet of papers with questions regarding what leadership positions we hold now and want to hold and our goals and our personal vision. We have to turn these into Stu on Friday and he is going to mail these to us in 6 months. It will be quite interesting to see if we’ve any progress toward our goals of maybe even achieved them already! A buzzword we use now from Stu’s first day of lectures is “proactive”.  Basically, what he was saying was that when you are presented with a stimulus, you need not to react immediately and take time to think about what to do next instead. I have struggled with this because in a Life Choices class I had to take at my middle school in the 7th grade, we learned that being proactive is being prepared for something that hasn’t happened yet, not stopping to think after something has already happened. I guess this new type of being proactive is just knowing how to take control. With everything there are risks, and we talked about the risks of not taking control. You find out later in life that you should’ve taken the risk or wondering why you didn’t do something sooner.


For lunch this day we just had finger sandwiches. We began to get the suspicion that South Africans eat a big breakfast (we get to eat in the hotel everyday and it is better than any breakfast I’ve ever had, except for when my mom makes chocolate chip muffins for breakfast!) and a big dinner but a tiny lunch. More on this later, I’m sure. In the afternoon we finished up the lecture that I’ve already discussed and then it was finally time to leave the hotel for the first time. We all got in minibus taxis and headed towards Table Mountain. It is unlike anything I have ever seen. You just can’t get used to seeing such an amazing creation in the background all the time. I took several hundred pictures so far and I’m not ashamed. In the taxi, I was just staring at the mountain wondering how it the world we are going to get to the top and also freaking out because I am not very good at being in high places without thinking constantly that I’m going to fall. We started at the bottom of the mountain which is as far as cars are able to go. We got into a cable car that holds about 40 people and goes literally almost straight up the mountain. At first I couldn’t even look out the window, but eventually the beauty of the world around me helped ease my anxiety. Did I mention that the cable car is round at the floor rotates so that you can see a full panoramic view of everything before you get to the top and also there is NOTHING to  hold onto if you freak out like I almost did. When we got to the top, it was unbelievable. You can look at the pictures all day but you will never understand unless you see it yourself. I was fairly shaky when we first got outside the cable car but after a few minutes, I was good to go. It was significantly cooler at the top of the mountain than at the bottom and even colder as the sun started to go down around 4 pm. The wind started blowing and the Table Cloth Started to move it, something equally as unbelievable. For those of you readers that don’t know what the Table Cloth is, it is clouds that form on top of the mountain and blow and fall down the side looking just like a grayish-white cotton table cloth. The wind was actually getting so strong that I became nervous and no longer stood too close to the side… and I may have given parents of tiny children looks that urged them to grab their energetic children by the hand otherwise nothing good could come if a gust of wind was big enough to sweep them off the side. We took the cable car back down as the sun set and gather into taxis again and headed back to the hotel. From here we changed quickly because we were hungry from our tiny lunch and it was dinnertime! Our hotel is so centrally located that we all walked down to the Waterfront, which is the port used by European cargo ships as a stop to recuperate on their way to India. I’d say it is pretty popular place for South Africans and tourists alike. There is a mall bigger than I’ve ever seen and many restaurants and even a ferris wheel. Several of us ate dinner at Ferryman’s, a mostly seafood restaurant. I had fish and chips. We spent the rest of the night before our 1 am curfew hanging out with more people from our group and meeting new people, especially a bunch of sailors from the Royal Navy! Before we knew it, it was time to go back to the hotel and Day 1 was officially over.

I wasn't scared anymore!


Toxic Charity

After reading Robert D. Lupton’s book, I felt very discouraged. I’ve done two youth group mission trips, each a week long. The first trip was to Philadelphia and the second to Atlanta. We worked 8am to 5pm every day, doing charitable things that were new to me and I felt like we were making such huge differences in people’s lives. But after having read Toxic Charity, I think we only did a few things right according to Lupton. We participated in helping food co-ops, and helped start community gardens in urban residence areas that I didn’t realize were the “good kind of charity” versus the “bad kind of charity” which we also participated in. A task often performed by members in my youth group is giving out free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water bottles to people on the street. Obviously I can tell that this is a direct hand out, but we do it so sporadically that I don’t think people can become dependent on it. What really stuck out to me, though, were food banks. My church has an active food bank. I am absolutely NOT 100% sure, but I think it’s just your average food bank were you receive the food with no cost to you. If it is, I would really like to look into turning it into more of a co-op situation where there a minimal membership dues. Doing so seems overwhelming but not impossible if you have the right leadership. If I try, I might be able to get the ball rolling on that one.

I think we’ve really got to focus on “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” saying. We hear it a lot but I don’t think we really take it into consideration. If we go into other countries to perform mission work, I think we have got to focus on teaching, not doing. Micro-loans have seemed to work wonders, especially in the examples in the books so we need to make these good ideas more common knowledge. I thought it was crazy that business people would go into mission work and leave all their business knowledge behind. We need to connect people’s specialties to the work that they want to do in helping others.

Pre-Trip Expectations

It’s hard to know where to start when asked about pre-trip expectations. I think I’ll just think of it chronologically.

First, I don’t know what to expect once I leave school on Saturday because I know once I get in my car and head home to Tallahassee, reality will hit me. Even though we will be arriving about this time in two weeks, I still haven’t grasped the idea that not only will I be leaving the country for the first time, I will be in South Africa. South Africa?! Whenever I tell someone that I am going there to study abroad for about two weeks, everyone tells me I will have an amazing and life-changing time. I guess you can say my expectations are pretty high at this point!

Getting there is going to be a struggle. Since I do live in Florida, and I am meeting up with my class in Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, I have somehow get myself there. The best option is for me to fly up the day before and stay with my roommate who lives in Spartanburg. I expect to already be exhausted before it is even the official time to leave. Finally, it will be time to check in to our first official flight of the Maymester and I know I will be so excited! Hopefully I will settle down and get plenty of sleep on the planes because it is going to take quite some time to get there!

Once we’re there, I really don’t know what to expect. Of course I will want to see everything! I’m interesting seeing just how great the difference in between the least fortunate and the most fortunate. I am looking forward to seeing all the different types of businesses and lifestyles. I’m interesting in learning how many small businesses there are versus how many large corporations are present, which type is more prevalent, and which is superior. As a tourist (hopefully nobody will notice!), I’m curious to see how much tourism affects the area. And don’t let me forget that I can’t wait to see the animals!

The topic we researched for the first test regarding our trip that I was most interested in was the St. James Church Massacre. Everything I saw about it just blew my mind. From the photos to the newspaper articles, I just couldn’t believe that it was real. I am so blessed to not have been in such a situation that would allow me to understand just what went on that day and since then. I expect that it will be extremely powerful to visit the church and attend a service there.

One last thing that I would like to mention is that I’ve spent a bit too much time during this crazy exam week looking up pictures of South Africa on Pinterest. I must say that there isn’t a single thing than I’m not excited to see or learn about!