Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I fell in love this weekend...

This last weekend I went camping with 70 kids ranging from the ages of 5 to 18.  Crazy right?  When I went into the weekend I had no idea what to expect because Brigid, Annie (the other Ubuntu intern), and I thought that we were just going camping with the kids from Ubuntu for the weekend.  So of course we were shocked when we showed up to the backpackers an hour outside of Cape Town and were greeted by 70 children running around!  It turns out that this camp was run by an organization called Reach for a Dream, the South African version of Make a Wish Foundation, and they run this camp for disadvantaged children from all over Cape Town.  There were orphans, cancer survivors, disabled children, and HIV positive kids at the camp; so needless to say, it was an extremely fun and thought provoking weekend. 

The camp was run really well with lots of activities planned for the kids, tons of prizes that they gave away, and great meals provided for all.  Brigid, Annie, and I spent most of our time watching all of the kids when the other counselors would peace out, and so by the end of the weekend we were quite exhausted.  But really, it was such a fulfilling weekend because not only did we get to connect a lot more with our kids from Ubuntu, but also we really connected with a lot of kids from the camp and spent most of the weekend with a small child holding our hand or sitting in our lap. 

What really astounded me about the weekend was how positive all of these children are all of the time.  The first morning we were woken up at 6 am and I unknowingly rolled over and complained about the early wake up.  I came to find out later that this is when the children take their ARV’s (anti-retroviral), and I heard no ounce of complaint about this inconvenience.  They have all gone through so much in their lives and probably understand more about suffering than I do as someone twice their age.  But still, they constantly have a smile on their face and are laughing about something like any “normal” kid.  It really made me appreciate the lessons that they are teaching me and I am so grateful to be learning so much from such youngsters.  I also became significantly more attached to the kids at Ubuntu.  I know that after this weekend it is going to be so much harder to say goodbye, but I also know that I have made a connection with the kids that I could never replace. 

And now onto another fun filled week… Sam’s mom is coming into town on Wednesday and my dad and Peggy are coming on Sunday! More updates to come soon! Love you all!

Friday, October 9, 2009

still loving it...

As always, it seems that millions of things have happened since last time I blogged, so I will to try to sum up the best of the best…

The Friday after our homestay we had a braai at our house because Sam’s brother and his friends were visiting and we wanted to see our friends from the homestay again.  The guest list was over 50 people, so needless to say, preparation was crazy.  Myself, two other vegetarians, and one meat eater went a local meat shop where they sell tons of meat in bulk for very cheap.  I was once again reminded why I made the right decision personally to be vegetarian.  But the braai was a great success, everyone came and danced and ate and socialized and it was a great night of being surrounded by old and new friends from so many different parts of the world. 

That next week we attended a walk for school libraries that was organized by Equal Education, an advocating NGO that my housemate Pat works for.  They did a study that showed that hardly any schools in the townships have a library, so they are advocating for, “one school, one library, one librarian,” for the underpriveledged schools.  We walked with about 2000 students and citizens for about 3 miles to City Hall where they had a rally.  It was so inspiring to see so many students standing up for their rights and knowing that they must voice their concerns to make a difference.  It really gave me hope for South Africa’s future.  And it was really exciting because the walk made The New York Times! You can check out the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/world/africa/25safrica.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=south%20africa%20libraries&st=cse.  It really was great to see how what we are doing here can be seen on such a global scale. 

This last weekend we attended a research conference in Stellenbosch.  We presented the preliminary stages of our research which was great for the public speaking practice, but we did seem a little out of place surrounded a bunch of very experienced researches.  I am doing my research on the differing affects of a service-learning abroad program vs. an arts and science program on the students’ understanding of South African culture.  I have not completed my report yet, but my initial results are pretty interesting so it was nice to get feedback while presenting them.  We stayed at a great backpackers and we were able to explore the city and University of Stellenbosch’s campus.  That night we went to a Afrikaaner rapper concert which was so interesting because it was the first time we had been surrounded by that many white South Africans. It really is so interesting how we are constantly reminded of the cultural differences that exist here, and it is so strange to find our place within them.

Finally, I got a treat this week of being able to see my roommate from school Taylor and my friends Nick and George from Santa Clara! They are on Semester at Sea and stopped in Cape Town for 6 days.  It was fun for both of us to get a little taste of each other’s worlds for these few months.  I really enjoyed taking Taylor to Mzoli’s and my service in Khayelitsha, and I think she really enjoyed not feeling like a tourist for a bit. On their last day here we hiked Table Mountain (after a long night at Rand a Brand I might add) and it was so great to get to the top and see the incredible view. I also got to see the inside of their ship, which seems like a Marriott on the sea! But it was very cool to be able to share our experiences and see each other in Cape Town, South Africa of all places!

I am going camping this weekend with Ubuntu so I am sure I will have lots to tell when I get back! Hope all is well at home-I love and miss you all!

Talk to you just now!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This last weekend we had our homestays in the township of Langa, which is about 20 minutes from our house.  My friend Eva and I staying with a Mama who was about 60 years old and her 6 year old grandson.  I really didn’t know what to expect before going into the weekend because we have seen so many different examples of townships.  We have seen nice houses that look like they could be in a more suburban part of the US and we have seen people living in one room shacks made out of scraps of metal and wood.  The houses that we all stayed in were definitely on the nicer side as far as township housing goes.  Ours had two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.  To be honest, the houses and their furnishings were almost nicer than I expected, but they still lacked certain things that we take for granted such as hot water and a shower. 

The houses are all extremely close together and you usually end up walking through someone’s yard, or house even, to get to another house.  But this doesn’t cause any problems, it just makes everyone closer.  The sense of community that they have in Langa is something I have never experienced first hand.  They are all black South Africans, Xhosa speakers, and have lived in Langa for a long time because it is the oldest township.  This makes them all extremely close, reliant on each other, and trusting of the whole community. Just to give you an example, the 6-year-old boy would be gone for 5 hours and no one would be very worried. They just know that people will watch out for him and no one is going to purposefully harm their “sisi of bhuti” or sister and brother.  Although there is still a safely issue of foreigners, we never once felt threatened or uncomfortable. 

We were able to eat their tradition food, which includes a variety of variations of meal (corn-like grain), sour milk, spinach, chicken, tripe (cow’s stomach), pasta salad, steamed bread, and more.  Since I am a recent vegetarian, it was very interesting to eat meat again in this setting.  I must say that I am so happy that we got to eat their traditional food and I enjoyed some of it, but I did eat a lot of Tums over the course of the weekend. 

During the weekend we were able to walk around Langa and see many different areas.  We saw the new houses that the government is building for the people.   We saw a room no bigger than my dorm room where 3 families lived with a total of 16 people.  We saw the meat market where they sell every part of an animal imaginable on wooden tables in the open air.  We went to a saloon at night where we were practically treated like celebrities, which was a little awkward at first but we ended up meeting some very interesting people.  We went to a Baptist church on Sunday with our Mama and were there for 3 hours until we left early. 

This whole experience made me realize so many things about myself and my life, along with so much about their culture.  I realized how much excess I live in, and I would really like to be conscious about realizing the difference between a need and a want.  I also realized how important a sense of community is and how we really lack that in some many parts of the States.  And I realized how self centered and focused we are on constantly being better in our culture.  We are not meant to be satisfied until we have done everything we possibly can to be successful, but this past weekend I met many very content and happy people because they had loving family and friends and a safe place to live.  Many of them did not have jobs and their husbands had died of left them, but they were happy with their life and didn’t spend their time worrying about how to get more.  I feel so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to create relationships with people of a totally opposite culture, and to learn from them about how I want to live my life.  Until next time, salani kakuhle! (stay well)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spring Break '09!

Spring Break in September has been of the craziest and best experiences of my life.  All 9 of my housemates plus Chris and Grady (our two fantastic guests) went on a 6-day adventure of a lifetime.  I will try to describe this to you but I am not sure I can do it justice…

The first day we left Cape Town early in the morning to drive to the Cango Caves where we got to climb around 250,000 year old caves underground.  Then we went to the Ostrich Farm where I discovered my phobia of large birds so I opted out when I had the option to ride them.  But watching the others get thrown around on these huge ugly creatures was quite entertaining.  Then we went to The Wild Spirit Lodge, our amazing backpacker for 4 nights.  This place was beautiful and perfect for our group.  We all shared one big room and they made us breakfast and dinner everyday, and they even took us on a sunset drive to a huge gorge where we got to have sundowners and see the amazing view. 

Sunday we went zip lining through the forest in the morning and then an elephant sanctuary in the afternoon.  I fell in love with elephants and was so happy to get to hug and feed them! They are such amazing creatures.  That night we got to sit around a campfire for a drum circle that kind of seems like a dream now that I think about it, but it definitely happened and I got really into the drumming!

Monday morning I jumped off the highest bungee jumping bridge in the world and I loved it!!! Imagine standing on the edge of a 650-foot bridge with only a rope attached to your ankles and people behind you yelling 3-2-1-bungee!! And then you swan dive into the air for a 4 second free fall that is the biggest rush of adrenaline I have ever imagined.  The best part for me was that no one besides Grady and myself was planning on jumping, but once everyone got to the bridge we all ended up jumping! We were so high on life that I am sure the people working at the jump thought we were crazy, but it was so incredible and I would do it every day if I could.

The next day we took a break from the crazy adventures to go the beach and I touched the Indian Ocean for the first time.  We hiked to a lookout point that overlooked the entire coast and the crashing ocean waves and it was so spectacular.  The next day we got an equally beautiful view of the ocean, but this time is was two oceans at once! We went to Cape L’Agalus where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.  We sat there to watch the sunset and I was truly reminding of how lucky I am to be living the life that I am.

We ended the last day with a bang when we went shark cage diving.  Just try and picture yourself in a cage hanging off the side of a boat with yourself and 5 other people.  You’re above the water when the men on the boat yell, “Down Down!” and you dive into the water to encounter a 10 foot long Great White Shark 2 feet from your face.  At one point I was in the water and a shark swam up and bite the cage bars right in front of my face! Yes, I was about a foot away from a shark’s mouth and it was great.  Strangely, I am more afraid of ostriches than I am of sharks and I don’t really know what that says about me but I am ok with it. 

To sum it all up (if that is possible), our Spring Break was 6 amazing days that I couldn’t have been better.  I am so grateful that we all got to experience it together and that Chris was able to come along for the ride.  It is almost time to get back to the real world, but I still have a few more days of break so we are going to live it up as much as possible! 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

If I had a super power...

Another great week has almost gone by, which is making me realize that time here is going too quickly and I would love time to stop because I am still enjoying every minute of it!

Monday I was able to go spend time with the kids at Ubuntu for 2 hours, which was great. They remind me why I put in the busy work.  They are all so beautiful and full of life, and most of the time that I am there I do not even think about the fact that they have HIV.  But then one boy walks in with the eyes of an 80-year-old man who has had a long suffering life, and then I remember that I can hardly imagine what these young children have gone through in their short years.  It is truly humbling to say the least.

Wednesday was a busy and exciting day. First, Brigid and I got to meet with the 15 mothers whom we are trying to set up the income-generating project for.  They were really interesting in crafting, possibly making scarves or bags that we could sell in the States to make more of a profit for them. We are still trying to get them trained, but if you have any suggestions please give me a shout!  After this meeting, our whole group got to go to parliament to see Jacob Zuma, the recently elected president of South Africa, speak.  It was a type of question/answer forum with the members of parliament and we got to sit and observe! It was many things: interesting, frustrating, informative, confusing, hopeful, and much different than I imagined.  But it was such an opportunity to see him speak and I am so happy that we had it.  Right after that we got to go to the book signing of Manuel Castells, the philosopher who we saw speak a few weeks ago.  This man is the 5th most cited philosopher ever and has done some really incredible things in his life.  He is pretty much a really big deal (described as the “Karl Marx” of our time) and we got to hear him talk about his book! It was really interesting because he worked with the Obama campaign, so he actually talked a lot about that which we all loved of course.

Today Brigid and I had a meeting with another NGO, Home from Home, which was so amazing. They are such an established and inspiring non-profit that we are going to learn so much from to help with the expansion of Ubuntu.  We also met with a woman who is starting an NGO that places long-term volunteers with non-profits in Cape Town, so if anyone would like to volunteer for 6 months to a year and has a specific skill, look her up!!

Tonight we are going out to a club called Hemisphere to celebrate the busy week. It is at the top of a hotel building and is very classy, so we will be thriving for sure!

Love to everyone!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

T.I.A. (This is Africa)

Hello again! Sorry about the delay, but here you go…a

About two weeks ago Briged and I (Briged is the other girl in my program who is working at Ubuntu with me) went to the office of Khayelitsha Cookies, an NGO that employs women from the townships. They were so kind and receptive to us and made us really believe that we could start our own food business for our 15-20 mothers making muffins or something.  After talking to Whitney and Angie, it seems that we really are going to start some type of business while we are here.  This is all very exciting and has a lot more detail but I will fill you in when we straighten it out for ourselves!  Then last week, I went with Whitney and Angie to a meeting with Nazareth House, a Catholic center run by nuns.  They take in abandoned and needy children, often orphans, and either try to find their extended family or just keep them at the center.  They really do amazing things and I recommend you look at their website.  The best part was their program for kids with disabilities.  In South Africa, people with disabilities are not accepted and are practically ostracized in society.  This is obviously a topic that is close to my heart because of Best Buddies, so I was very happy to see a place that where they were welcome and loved.  It made me want to come back here and start a home for kids with disabilities…but that’s thinking in the way future…

Other great things that happened since the last time I wrote:

  • Bo-Kaap, the Muslim neighborhood with all the multi-colored houses.  They have so much tradition and culture, and we got to eat a traditional meal that was wonderful.  It’s a must for any visitor!

  • The South African Museum: where we got to see a planetarium star show for about $1 and it was awesome! And then the man who worked in the star show gave us a private showing of the Cape Town night sky…highlight of the weekend!

  • This last Friday we had a tour of parliament and then a lecture by a man who was one of the head people of the TRC (truth and reconciliation commission).  For those who do not know what this is, you should look it up, but basically it was South Africa’s way of dealing with the conflicts of Apartheid and included conditional amnesty and documentation of the crimes committed, etc…  This man was amazing!!! He had done so much in his life and really made us think about conflict resolution.  I feel so lucky that each lecturer seems to be better than the last and I continue to be in awe of this country’s recent history.

  • Today we hiked Lion’s Head, a part of Table Mountain, and the views from the top were incredible! I don’t think I have ever seen the ocean from a nearly 200-degree view with the mountain right in the background.  Spectacular! (see my facebook for pics)

Basically, it is hard to recount what I have been doing because the emotions and the thoughts just overtake my mind.  I continue to see all of the inequality and then see great things people are doing.  I have been questioning my purpose and questioning why I am drawn to these people and this country.  And I can’t help but feel somewhat helpless at times.  But earlier this week at the Catholic center Nazareth House, I realized that these nuns were serving the people solely because it is God’s work.  I don’t mean to sound preachy or religious, but it was a great thing to see that there doesn’t have to be a reason or an explanation for everything, it just needs to be done through the heart.  I am still learning and taking it all in, and I am sorry I am not being more in-depth in my explanation now, but I really am thinking of you all the time.  I will try to write more often so it is not a novel every time!  much love

Monday, August 10, 2009

the "service-learning" begins...yay!

Hey sorry for the lack of blogging that has been going on in my life lately.  Basically for a short excuse, there is just so much to take in here that the last thing I really want to do at the end of the day is write about it.  But here I am to update you all!

So I started my service this last week at Ubuntu Africa, a nonprofit in the township of Khayelitsha (pronounced Kai-leetch-a).  Ubuntu is an after-school type program with kids 4-18 years old who are HIV positive.  At the center the kids play games, have one-on-one counseling, have one meal (usually their only meal for the day), and learn about nutrition and health and whatnot.  Basically, it is a safe place for these kids to go after school and have a community with kids like them.  All but one of them is from single parent homes or foster homes because they have lost their parents to AIDS. 

Khayelitsha is the biggest township in Cape Town and has about 2 million people living there.  The majority of people live in one-room shacks made out of sheet metal.  The HIV rate for children is about 40%.  There are hundreds of non-profits working in the area and it seems from first impressions that they are barely scratching the surface of a giant wound.  That may seem really negative, and I really don’t mean it like that. It is just that it gets to be a little frustrating to want to help so much and to not really be able to.  But I also know that I am lucky to be able to affect just a few people’s lives and so I am thankful for that.

At Ubuntu I am working with my housemate and friend Briged.  We have three projects that were given to us for our time here. The first is to put together a database of the nonprofits in the area.  We are going to be meeting with them and learning what they are all about so we can see how they can help us and we could help them.  It will be great to talk to other institutions to see how they work.  The second project is to find some type of income generating venture for the 15-20 highly involved mothers of the center.  They currently have no source of income so we are looking to find them jobs, either by starting their own business with a micro credit loan or to join another project that is already in place.  The last project is to create some type of book for the center that includes writing and artwork from the kids, parents, workers, and more.  This will hopefully be a good way to fundraise and spread awareness about Ubuntu. 

All in all, the service is going to be a lot of work and keep me very busy here in Africa.  But I really couldn’t ask for anything more.  I am so so so excited to get started on all of these projects and really be a big part of this organization.  It only started two years ago, so our place will be very large and a big help I think.  I will let you know more how it goes once we get more into it, but initially that I all I am doing there.

On a different note, this weekend was pretty crazy and fun because it is Women’s Day today so we didn’t have classes or anything.  On Friday we had a braai (or bbq) with our local friends and our neighbors who are a part of the arts and science program with CIEE.  Then on Saturday we went to bar to watch the South Africa vs. Australia rugby game.  It was a very important game and South Africa won so that was great! Then yesterday we went to Misoli’s, the restaurant where we ate with our hands in the township of Langa.  On Sundays all the locals and a bunch of tourists come in and they have a DJ and things get pretty crazy.  We were there all day hanging out with our local friends and some new people and celebrating Women’s Day! Yay women!

Ok, well that is about it for me! I would love to get emails with updates about how everything is going at home, wherever that may be! Miss you all and I promise I will try to be better about blogging so they are not essays every time! 

Monday, July 27, 2009

ropes courses, spoken word, and clicking!

So, I got high in South Africa this weekend.  Don’t worry, there was no illegal activity involved.  We had an expectations retreat this last weekend in High Africa, a retreat center fittingly named for their intense high ropes course and rock-climbing wall.  We got to go about 40 feet above the ground and walk across beams and hang on nets.  It was very exciting and made me realize I LOVE things like this because not only do they challenge us individually, but they really bonded us as a group.

It was a weekend of a lot of play, but also a lot of productive talking about our program, why we are here, and what we want to accomplish during our time here.  We were really reminded about how original and unique this type of program is.  We truly are learning while serving.  We take 3 classes and have a capstone project that the end.  Our classes include and language course (I am taking Xhosa, which is the click language!), a research methods course, and an understanding Cape Town course.  For the last one we are having excursions with our lectures, so we are going to see and experience what we learn about.  I honestly think this is such a well organized program because we get all aspects of learning.  We also are meant to design a research project for the end of the term, but that will become clearer later what we are to be studying. 

The weekend also included some amazing star-gazing! It was truly spectacular the amount of stars you can see when you get away from a city. And we saw at least 15 shooting stars! I guess the only downside was that it was freezing there!! Winter in Africa is way more extreme than I imagined!

Oh! I almost forgot to mention the AMAZING spoken word performance I went to last night when we got back.  It was called Urban Voices and was a line up of famous poets from South Africa, the US, Ghana, and Jamaica.  I had never heard of the main performer Stacy Ann Chin , but if you haven’t heard of her LOOK HER UP!!! She was honestly the most inspiring, incredible, honest, and beautiful person I have ever seen perform their poetry.  There was also another man, Mark (I can’t remember his last name), who not only recited incredible poetry, but danced, sang, rapped, and acted it out as well.  I have never seen a performance quite like this, and I was so inspired I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or sing.  Honestly, I recommend seeing a spoken word performance if you haven’t before. 

Today we had our first lecture, which was our language course.  Needless to say, I think the clicking is going to be quite a challenge, but I am excited that I will be able to kind of communicated with the people where I am doing service.  The rest of the week will be full of classes and beginning our service.  I will write more on that later!

Ok well I best be going, we are at the local café Cocoa Wahwah, which has amazing food and amazingly slow internet.  But I will write more soon about adventures from Cape Town!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

and the fun continues...

So last night I think I saw a man having a spiritual transcendence from playing the drum.  As part of our orientation, UCT brought in a group called Drum Café, which is a group of 7 guys who travel around South Africa playing the drums and teaching people how to play them.  I don’t even think you could call is “playing” it was so amazing.  And they had drums for all the students to play so we were in the huge hall with about 500 other students beating on these drums.  It was incredible!

            Later we went to CyBar, the local student bar, which is about a 10-minute walk from our house.  Definitely thrived…there was a long period of time that I was dancing on a bench in the middle of the bar with my friend Eva.  It was a great time though and fun because we were with a lot of the other study abroad students and some locals.  However, as fun as it is to party with the other people from the States, I really like going out with the locals.  It is just a different experience and I didn’t come to South Africa to party with Americans.  Although, all has been great so far.

            Today, after our very intense HIV/AIDS talk at 9 o’clock in the morning, we took a more in depth tour of the townships.  Ronal’s friend Thabo who runs tours around Cape Town frequently guided us.  It was such a wonderful day. 

            We started off going to the District 6 Museum, which is one of the only buildings left standing from the district that the white people destroyed in 1966.  It was the mixed race district that had about 70,000 people living there.  The whites decided that it was unclean, although it was actually much cleaner than the places they are made to live in now, and so they bulldozed the entire area.  It is actually very sad, but the government is now working to rebuild it, but truthfully it will probably not be finished for many years.

            Then we went to Langa, one of the many townships surrounding the city.  We saw beautiful pottery making that is bringing in good revenue for the people.  We went to the HIV/AIDS support system they have there, which is mostly run by kids our age.  It was so inspiring to see these young people totally taking charge to improves the lives of the younger generation in the township.  I felt so amazed that they were doing it all themselves, but also kind of sad that it seems that in America we do not take charge like that. People have to hold our hand to guide us into serving our community and these kids were choosing to do this at their own will.  It was truly something to learn from.

            Then we walked down the street and saw the lovely sheep’s heads that they sell for about $5 and people cook with.  Not going to lie, it made me a little queasy the way they handle meat here.  We went to a little shack and tried some of the locally brewed beer that is a very social tradition in the township.  Then we went to a traditional healer’s “office” that was filled with handing dried out animal carcasses and bones.  A little creepy but really cool to see.  We then ended the day having a local meal of meat and pop (like grits), which was really good and the best part was we ate it with our hands! I think we should always eat with our hands because it really does make food more entertaining. 

            All in all, more amazing times in Cape Town and I can’t wait for more to come!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

So I think I may have seen the most beautiful place on earth today...

Today was the first day of our University of Cape Town orientation with the rest of the students studying abroad, so I met a girl from Canada and a guy from Germany.  The day consisted of a bus tour around the cape that took almost 10 hours. We started off driving through the city where they pointed out sights to us like the Slave Museum, the neighborhood of colorful houses called Birkhop, and many other buildings. 

We then head to the coast to stop at one of the top 5 beaches in the world! It was beautiful, with white sandy beaches and the sun barely coming up behind Table Mountain in the background.  We looked out and say a whale fairly close to us, but I guess that is common around these parts of town.  I also heard that you can see great white sharks when you go to the areas where the seals are, but I will see those when I go …(mom stop reading)…shark diving!  We then went to a penguin reserve where all these South African penguins were just walking around right off the boardwalk where we were! It was crazy how close to us they were, and I felt very random to be seeing penguins out on the sunny sandy beaches. 

Next we drove through some wine country back roads to a place called Ocean View (ironic because they have no view of the ocean), but this is where we ate lunch and saw some local performances.  It was incredible! They fed us all this great food and then sang and danced for us.  I saw 5 year olds doing moves I could never dream of doing.  They were break dancing like the jabbawalking group from America’s Best Dance Crew.  I kind of felt like I was at a teen version of “So You Think You Can Dance”.  It was really inspirational and great to see a culture that was trying to change the all too common lifestyle of drug abuse and poverty and turn it into something constructive for their younger generation.  

           Then we were off to the Cape of Good Hope, aka the southern most tip of Africa.  We hiked up to the top of this hill and then down to the very end, all the while overlooking amazing ocean crashing into big cliffs and white sandy beaches.  I really wish words could describe how beautiful this place was, but they just really cannot.  It honestly took my breath away, and I tried to capture it in pictures but I don’t even think those did it justice.  I wish that I could just go there everyday for the rest of my life.  It honestly made me just appreciate so much this experience that I am able to have and so thankful for my life.  Just a great day all in all! Tonight we may be “thriving” but it is still up in the air.  “Thriving” is the term Patrick, our SOLmate, gives for just having a great time and being in the moment.  Usually there is something having to do with alcohol but not always! Ha Ok well updates soon to come!! Love you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

and so it begins...

Ok so I love Cape Town.  After about 40 hours of traveling, multiple layovers, getting lost a few times in Heathrow airport, and telling the man at customs my phone number instead of my flight number, I made it to our very nice hotel in downtown Cape Town.  I stayed there one night on my own, but there was one girl, Bridget, who was there as well and we went out for a lovely meal in the POURING rain and then went to bed at about 8 o'clock.  The next day everyone got to the hotel and the adventures began! 

There are 9 people in my program including myself, 8 girls and one lucky boy named Patrick.  Out "Sol mate" (student orientation leader) and guy that lives with us is also named Patrick and is from Zimbabwe, 23 years old and very nice.  There is also a girl Ranel who runs both the service learning and the arts and sciences program so she has been around a lot as well.  I feel like we have already established a little family in a sense.  It is just such a quality group of people with different backgrounds and perspectives and a great spirit to do great things for the world.  For people that know, it is kind of like a smaller version of SCCAP (the service group that I am a part of at Santa Clara).  Just a lot of really inspiring people that I cannot wait to get to know better and learn from. 

Basically, we have been just getting an overview of everything for the past three days.  We talked about classes, cell phones, food, and the service projects that we will be doing.  We do not know what exactly we will be doing yet, but it should be decided in the next few weeks! We drove around through the townships, the poverty stricken areas in Cape Town surrounding the city, which was eye opening of course and really unreal how these people live.  I will tell more about that later. We also moved into our lovely house yesterday! It is a big Victorian type house with huge bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a kitchen.  Basically it is amazing except for the fact that is it really cold! But really, I shouldn’t complain though.

As for the nightlife, we have been going out every night because it’s the first weeks so you have to! We went to a hilarious comedy act on Monday night on Longstreet, which is the common area for people to go out at night. Last night we went to this bar there that has “rand a brand” on Wednesday nights, which is basically one rand (about 13 US cents) for one shot.  So as you can imagine it is very crazy and got a little out of control.  But all safe and great fun of course!

I won’t ramble on forever about everything, but I will update soon on what we are doing! Miss you all and wish you could be here because you all deserve to see this beautiful country! Xoxox

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Hey everyone!

Welcome to my blog!  This is where you will get all the stories, juicy secrets, adventures, and tales of my South African adventure that begins in just a few days (I leave July 10th!).  I hope you like the name, TSA for short, which I thought was fitting since they are just the people I am worried about getting past with my somewhat insane amount of luggage.  But it really is amazing what one can fit into a suitcase thanks to a little help (cough...Noelle).  I arrive in Cape Town on Sunday July 12th and check into a hotel for a few days for orientation.  I'm not sure what my internet access will be at that point but I promise I will post as soon as I can! Love you all and I hope you are all enjoying your summer. Miss you and keep my updated on life while I am abroad!

Peace and love,