Hello friends, family, and loved ones of all the students on this global seminar!
Two things come to mind tonight: (1) I'm ecstatic to be back in my second home of Cape Town and (2) even more thrilled (and thankful) to be sharing my second home with such a great group of students. I've had a covenant to my own South African family for years - to bring a group of students to Cape Town. That promise has come to fruition after an extraordinary amount of work - for me, the Learning Abroad Center, my best of friends here, and the AMAZING InterStudy staff who greeted us with open arms, drove us all over today, treated us to a South African braai (BBQ), and quickly befriended all of the students.
The journey here was not without a hitch. Our second flight group was - thanks to Delta Airlines - spilt up at check in and four students regrettably missed their flight to Amsterdam. Delta had shifted these four students back-and-forth between personal check in lanes and "group" check-in (floors apart). With storms ranging across the country, the airport was beyond hectic and the ping-pong game with our four students helped them to miss their flight. This was Delta's wrongdoing but I'm happy to report that these four students are on their way! Beyond that, our third flight group landed in Chicago, was on their way to London and forced to turn around and return to Chicago due to a medical emergency on board with another passenger. With saving grace, they made it to London and were able to make it to Cape Town this morning as planned.
There have been other slight issues with baggage, Internet connection, phones, and money, but nothing we couldn't handle and the overall sentiment for all students is one of joy and laughter.
Finally, I sense that the overall lesson of today was that of South Africa's remarkable contradictions. In one car ride from the airport, students witnessed families who make no more than $5 a week to those who make hundreds and hour. They have become witness to Apartheid's legacy. They have also learned that this is a place not so "unlike" home. South Africa in many ways is very much like home - familiar stores, infrastructure, food, roads, schools, etc. It is just beyond these beautiful neighborhoods, though, were the continued lessons on contradictions dwell. Once they travel to these places and see the "other side" of Cape Town, our deepest learning will begin!