The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activities, beautiful sights, and trying new things. I feel like I have grown and gained so much independence. It’s an incredible feeling to see so many things you have never seen before, and actually have the feeling that you are making a difference in someone’s life.
It’s crazy to think that orientation is actually over. We arrived here unaware of what Cape Town would bring. We were thrown into a two-week crash course on South Africa, and I loved every second of it. We swam with penguins at Boulders Beach, saw a concert at the Kirstenbosch gardens, and went surfing at Muizenberg Beach. It has been unreal in that aspect, but another part of the orientation was just as incredible.
As part of our orientation we were taken through the townships here in Cape Town. I have traveled to Honduras before, and thought I had seen poverty and knew what it was. But this was a whole new ballpark. Driving through Khayelitsha, Guguletu, and many other areas was shocking. I saw so many people walking through the streets, and so many children everywhere. It was such a contrast to the places I have been here where the sights are incredible and the signs of poverty are minimal.
Seeing the townships make me realize how different areas of Cape Town really are. The beauty of the sights is a stark contrast to the inner downtown area, where people sell everything they can just to make a couple Rand. I learned a lot from my experiences today, and know that I have many more to come. I know this sounds cheesy, but everyone I see looks beautiful in his or her own way. It makes me feel seriously grateful for what I have at home in the States and where I am living while I am here. I realize that there are some children out there in Cape Town tonight that don’t even have running water or a safe place to sleep, so next time I complain about something like my cell phone or computer – I realize that is a luxury only a small portion of the world is lucky to have.
Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to learn how to surf. I spent the entire day in the water at Muizenberg beach, something that not many people ever get to do in their lifetimes. We had to evacuate out of the water because a Great White was spotted, and then were given the okay to go back in. It is experiences like this, along with the stark contrast of seeing the townships that makes this city so beautiful. I realize that although I do miss the comforts of being home, from the meals to the family and friends, there isn’t anywhere in the world I would rather be than Cape Town. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had and the ones still to come that I can’t help but being grateful for the future. Although it is a hard concept to grasp, I have learned to take everything one day at a time and adjust to ‘South African time.’ I found a quote from the District 6 Museum that describes the experiences I have had and what I look forward to perfectly. It reminds me to live in the moment and not take anything for granted. It is so simple yet so perfect because “No matter where we are, we are here.”