So its been a few days since my last blog entry- the truth is I have been too lazy to actually sit down and write one. Today is my last day in Cape Town, and I am so sad to be leaving. I know I haven't been as diligent with the blogs as I should have been, but I have had so many amazing adventures. Its hard to choose what to write about in the blog. For instance, today I not only stood at the southern most point of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, but I also got the frolic on the beach with some penguins. And that was just today! I have three weeks worth of stories and adventures to share with anyone at home who is willing to listen. I will probably be talking about this experience nonstop for the next three months, so prepare yourselves. And please ask questions! I honestly just feel so thankful that I got to do this. I signed up for the trip not knowing what I was getting myself into, and it has turned out wonderfully. I have done some pretty cool things, but more importantly I have met some amazing people. I am definitely not willing to let my new friendships go, and keeping in touch with people from this trip will be a priority once I get home. I was told that studying abroad could be a life changing experience, but I took that with a grain of salt. I thought before that there was no way three weeks could impact the rest of my life, but I think I was wrong. This trip has taught me so much, not only about South Africa, but about myself as well. For this, I owe an enormous thank you to Nate, Sarah, everyone on the trip, and everyone we have met here in South Africa. I have had the time of my life. P.S.- I know I promised pictures of me with the penguins in an earlier blog but I'm just way too lazy to upload it right now- it will be up on facebook shortly though
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As you can probably tell by the title of this blog post, today has been a long one, filled with ups and downs. Thinking back, I see that it can probably be divided into four different parts: 1. Delft Today was our second day in Delft. Like yesterday, we continued weeding the garden. Again it felt good just to do something for these people who do so much, even if that just meant pulling weeds out of the ground (even if one particularly prickly weed did give me a weird rash on my leg for a while). After that, we went on home visits where we got to play with children. I may not be the greatest fan of kids, but even I had so much fun. It was great to see the children laugh when I couldn't limbo or jump rope (two skills that seemed to have disappeared since childhood), or to see one particular little girl's face light up when she got to paint our faces. I have pictures of the green and blue smudges left on my cheeks from the girls in Delft. I won't say it wasn't heartbreaking to see some of the conditions in Delft, but playing with the kids left me feeling inspired and hopeful. 2. Fun Delft is a great experience, but it is a heavy one. We had the afternoon off today, so after eating lunch and showering, a group of us decided to head back to Greenmarket Square. I love wandering around the shops and just looking at the things people are selling. I enjoy bargaining with the venders much more than I though I would and overall it is just such a good time. I finished most of my present buying and got the one thing for myself that I really wanted. 3. The Uh-Oh I wrote in an earlier blog that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and experience something new while here in South Africa. I definitely had a first today, but not in a good way. While at an ATM today, a man came up behind me, spied on me while I was putting in my PIN number, cancelled my transaction, and stole my debit card. The whole thing happened so fast that I couldn't even figure out exactly what had happened for a few hours. Luckily, I was able to contact my mom and the bank (even though I can't place calls on my South African cell phone- thank you to Paige and the Bean for letting me use their phones!) and get the card on hold, but not before they were able to get most of the money out of my account unfortunately. But thanks to my wonderful mama and the good folks at Interstudy, everything will work out. 4. The Aftermath The title I gave this sounds melodramatic, but I think its appropriate. After getting a hold of my mom and the bank. the only thing I could think of was how stupid I felt. Nate, the professor who is here with us, has warned us repeatedly that if we let our guards down in South Africa for even a minute something bad will probably happen. Today I learned this lesson firsthand. I had been warned about petty theft in South Africa, even this exact scam, but it just happened so fast it was unbelievable. However, I'm not going to let this experience sour my time in Cape Town. I thank everyone who has helped me, from the girls I was with at the time, my mom, and the amazing people in the Interstudy program who are helping me. I guess I know now that even while I'm enjoying myself, I have to be hyperaware of what is going on around me.
Hi everyone! We are about halfway into our time here in South Africa and I have been having so much fun. Learning my way around the city, trying different restaurants almost every day, shopping in Greenmarket Square and the V&A Waterfront, seeing sights like St. George's Cathedral- its been a blast! But today I was reminded why I came to South Africa: to learn and experience something new and meaningful. Yes the touristy stuff has been fun, but it's not why I'm here. Today was our first day of service learning in Delft Township. We are working with Africa Tikkun, an organization in Delft working to strengthen the community. We are basically there to do whatever they need us to do. So, for the first two hours today, we weeded the garden. Since their gardener got sick a few months ago, no one has had the time to work on it. I felt honored to be able to pull out weeds for a few hours if that is what was needed. They do so much good, and I just want to help in anyway that I possibly can. For the rest of the morning today, we walked through Delft to the Delft Community Hospital and Clinic. We were shown around by one of the most amazing and inspiring women I have ever met, and unfortunately I don't even know her full name. I only know her as the sister, but she is one of my heroes. She radiated pure conviction and pride in the work she was doing at the clinic. She was well aware of the problems, but also so hopeful. You could tell instantly that this clinic, helping the people of Delft is her passion, and she was more than willing to share that with us. I can only hope one day to find my own passion like her. Seeing the clinic was a heavy experience. There are over 1 million people in Delft and just the one clinic trying to provide all the necessary care. They are poor, small, and understaffed. The doctors are fresh out of med school and doing the mandatory community service before getting licenses. There were lines of people waiting for treatment everywhere. Despite all this, I didn't leave the clinic feeling sad or depressed. I was in awe of this clinic and the people who work in it. It is in no way perfect, but it is an incredible resource for the people of Delft. Heathcare is paid for by the government in South Africa, so the people at the clinic are able to get treated for little or no cost. They may have to wait for a very long time, but patients at the clinic are seen by people like the sister, who truly care for every single person who walks through those doors. We can focus on the bad and see the lines of people waiting for too few beds and too few doctors, or we can focus on the good and see the clinic as something wonderful. I, for one, see the latter. I am not in South Africa for a vacation. Sure, the shopping and sightseeing is fun (I'm planning to go back to Greenmarket Square tomorrow to finish buying some presents) but this is more than just a vacation. It is deeper than that. It is an amazing chance to learn and grow in ways I could never have dreamed of. I am so thankful to have met people like Anthea and Liz at Afrika Tikkun and the sister at the hospital. Right now, I am just humble.
Hi everyone! So this is my first blog post since arriving in South Africa and I don't even know where to begin. So far I guess the biggest thing we've done besides just getting oriented to the city and the sun is the Educo Africa retreat, which we lovingly called "bush camp." On our way out of the city to the mountains we were able to tour several communities in the townships, which was eye opening. Up until that point we had only seen the 1st world side of South Africa; this was a short glimpse into the 3rd world side. We start our service learning in Delft township later this week, and it was nice to get a peek at the community we will be working with. The drive into the mountains took three hours, but guess who got carsick only an hour in? That would be yours truly. Unfortunately the motion sickness combined with jet lag, exhaustion, and dehydration left me feeling pretty crappy, so I missed out on the about the first 24 hours of the retreat. While everyone else went hiking and swimming, I napped. Luckily I recovered and was able to participate in the last half of the retreat. Educo was a really great experience that really helped our group get to know each other and really begin to trust each other. It was a time for us really just to reflect. One of my personal favorite experiences was just sitting on a rock and watching the sun set in the mountains. It was beautiful, and probably a once in a lifetime experience.
Hello all! For anyone who might not know, I am going on an adventure to South Africa this winter break, and I this is the first entry in my blog. I'm leaving Monday morning, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little scared. I have never been out of the country before, and I have no idea what to expect from this trip. I have been trying to prepare- I've done research on Cape Town and South Africa, but I don't think reading articles on the internet can do it justice. So I think I'm just going to wing it, and keep my mind open to all new experiences. I know that we will have plenty of fun on this trip, but that we are going there to learn, and some of the experiences will be deep and heavy. My goal for myself is to be able to take in the range of experiences and appreciate them all for what they are. I want to embrace this trip, try new things, and live outside of my box for a few weeks. I can honestly say that when I thought of myself studying abroad, I never pictured myself in Africa. I always assumed that when I finally went on a trip outside of the United States I would end up in Europe somewhere. But I like the idea of going someplace I never thought I would. I had never really given a thought to South Africa before, but now that I have learned a bit more about the country, I am so glad that I went a little outside my comfort zone and decided to go on this trip. I am excited beyond words to visit this country and learn about such a vibrant and interesting place. I am nervous, excited, and completely ready to jump into my three weeks in Cape Town, South Africa! For any family and friends who want to follow along with my trip, this blog is the way to do it. I would like to say that my blog entries will all be witty and charming, but knowing me they will probably be a little awkward with poor spelling. Once I actually get to South Africa, I will be posting pictures to go along with the blog, so watch for those (just a heads up, when we visit the beach with the penguins the blog will probably just be pictures with a few exclamation marks). Comments are definitely appreciated, especially if they are sarcastic and funny, as I know my friends and family are. I am so excited to go on this trip, and I look forward to sharing it with my friends and family through this blog.