I was talking to a few people about my plans for the rest of school and I was telling them how I was going to extend my undergraduate career just so I can have the opportunity to return to Cape Town for a semester. The first thing everyone always ask me is when did I decide. Every time they do I can't help but Smile as I say, "My first day here." Its hard to explain to my family my new goals in life, because I know they will never truly understand why a 3 week seminar could change all of my goals in life. The hardest part is letting go of everything I've ever known and all of my relationships, to pursue my new goal. Next spring semester I plan on coming to Study at UCT and making even more friends than I made this time. I'm still so appreciative and happy that I got the opportunity to learn more lessons in these three weeks than I've learned in my whole college career. So today as everyone else is sad as they say their goodbyes and farewells to Cape Town, I'm personally not sad at all. I'm excited to go home and see my family and friends and tell them about my wonderful experiences here and all of the new friends I've met, the kind of people I've seen, the customs I've been introduced to and the sacrifices I've learned to make while on my trip to Cape Town, but of course I don't have a reason to be sad or regretful, because for myself this isn't a goodbye or a farewell. Its more like a see you later because I know theres no way I could leave and not return to my wonderful new home.
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As I was planning my trip for South Africa, that all it was supposed to be to me... A trip. But it turned out to be more meaningful than I could EVER imagine. I've learned so much about the society here, the people, poverty and so much more that its kind of hard to digest it all. I never thought I would come here and fall in love with all of those things. I underestimated this great Country and all it has to offer me. I gained so much just from being here that I can't fathom never returning. I titled this entry "Silver and Gold" in dedication to all of the wonderful people I've met here in Cape Town. From classmates, to locals, even mini bus drives, everyone has taught me something. I came here to learn about social justice and this trip surpassed every expectation that I could have imagined. I made new friends and long lasting relationships that I will always refer to as "Silver and Gold" :) :) :) I don't think it would have been possible to place me with a better group of people and for that I have to thank Nate. If only I knew from the first day of hearing his stories that South Africa was even more amazing than he could even begin to explain. Everything I've done here was so valuable and priceless. I can't wait to unite with all of the wonderful people I've met and Cape Tpwn in General!
Last week I was walking back from Green Market Square. It was pretty hot outside and we were tired from walking around the market for hours. As we walked in a group of about six, we all laughed and shared stories about how much we spent on a certain item and what we had left to buy for our loved ones. Two huge bags full of paintings, artifacts, and whatever else you could think of draped over my shoulders. I was so busy walking to the train station that I almost didn't notice a little boy asking for food. He was very small and timid. His hair and clothes were full of dirt and he was very quiet in his request. My hear immediately sank when I noticed his torn clothes and his feet coming out of the front of his shoes causing him to limp as he walked. We took him inside KFC and bought him food. After talking with him for a few minutes we realized he had 4 brothers and sister at home and he was the oldest. We bought him more food, and left him with a few hundred rand in the hopes that he would make it home safely and be able to feed his family for a few days. I was in disbelief at the amount of people who could stand by and watch a child go hungry. I felt honored to meet Austin, he gave me an understanding of what was really going on. I learned so much from that one experience, but its harder now that I have to face reality about South African poverty and know that theres nothing I can do.
I've never actually had any desire to come to Africa, especially South Africa. From the moment I stepped of the plane I knew there was something special about this place. The people are so vibrant, the culture is so rich and everyone always has such a positive manner about them. I thought I had my whole life figured out as far as what I wanted to do with myself, until I came to Cape Town, South Africa... But now I'm lost. Lost in a good way, and in a bad way. I like the fact that life threw a curveball at me and now I'm in this new place discovering things I could only dream of back home. But I'm a little sad that I must now learn how to say goodbye to the home and the family, and the friends that I've known my whole life, because there is no way I could ever leave and not return to this beautiful place. This place of no worry, full of love and vibrant people. South Africa is probably the last place I would have thought that I'd find a home at, but it actually turned out to be the first. As the time to return to the states gets closer all I can imagine is how sad I'll be waking up and not being able to say good morning to the mountain that I've become accustomed to waking up to. So as far as South Africa goes, this isn't a goodbye, its a "see you later" because I know soon I'll be returning to my new home that I've fallen in love with. :-)
Hello, My name is Marika Reese. On Monday I'll be leaving for a 3 week seminar in South Africa. When I first signed up for the seminar I thought I knew why I was going, but I actually had no idea. I thought I wanted to go because I'm a sociology major and I dedicate most of my time to tracing footsteps... The footsteps of the homeless, the footsteps of at risk youth, the footsteps of domestic violence victims, and even the footsteps of myself. So I ask myself, what are footsteps? Footsteps to me are something you leave behind in the past to move forward to something else in the future. Footsteps sound like a positive move to me, because I've never seen someone walk backwards for too long. I now know I'm going on this trip to learn. I'm learning a way of life that I've never had to experience and to also study somewhere that has a rich history of racism that has moved forward. I'm going to south africa so I can change myself for the better and create my own footsteps, maybe in a new direction.