When I arrived at the airport, I had no expectations of Cape Town. The only expectations I had were of the beautiful Table Mountain, and the beautiful beaches. Twenty-four hours later I arrived here at Cape Town. Andy, Emma, and I hopped on a cab at 11pm. We were going down the dark abyss of South Africa. Of course in the cab it felt just like another highway, and another city. Then when we arrived at our place aka "the camp", the vicinity was high class. I knew from that moment that we are provided above average treatment, which I am ever so grateful to American University, and our Professor for arranging such a nice stay. I am also aware that this is not what it would be like when working in the field. Nevertheless, I am grateful for this moment, and enjoying every moment.
I never would have imagined to have absorbed so much of this country in fourteen days. From 9am to 5pm we have a filled agenda. Despite my laptop failing, as they say, "the show must go on". I could go on forever about our experience so far, but two important points that have affirmed my believes, and as well as new lessons I have gained are:
1. Ubuntu - "You are through others". Growing up in a collectivist country of Jakarta, Indonesia I have always struggled to adapt to the individualistic culture and mindset of Americans. Americans often attribute their success to oneself rather than the connections and support that have helped them along the way. At least they don't recognize and acknowledge those who have uplifted them, and speak more in terms of, "I". Even in the way one speaks of themselves in the US it is often times "I" rather than "We". I think this is a philosophy that should be spread globally. I can say that from his experience I have grown, and I thank Professor Hirschmann, Sheila, and my cohorts here in this program. Here we are below enjoying a day out in Thandi vineyard and apple vineyard.
2. Forgive no matter how hard. I believe that forgiveness is a character. Before South Africa, I rarely come across individuals who have the ability to forgive wholeheartedly. I personally face my own struggle to fully forgive. Forgiveness is a hard act to execute. But after my visit to Robben Island (pictures below) I have faith in forgiveness. After years of hate through apartheid, the blacks of South African were able to reach a peaceful transition through a successful 1994 election. This event to me seems very surreal, and sitting here imagining a time where human beings were separated based on the color of their skins, and find peace after that is hard to fathom. Nevertheless, it gives me hope that all of us have- in every fiber of our body, the ability to forgive.