The past week has been amazing! Aside from learning from extraordinary lecturers and further exporting South Africa, we’ve also taken advantage of some of the several events that are taking place here in Cape Town. This week we’ve gone on outings with our host mom, visited the beautiful water front, visited Long Street, gone to two concerts (Lady Gaga and Steve Aoki), climbed Table Mountain, and visited Khayelitsha, another township outside of Cape Town. This is part of the reason why I haven’t blogged until now, just because we’ve been so busy being out and about. I’ve really liked being here in Cape Town. Most of the people I’ve met are so down to earth and open to talk. While here, I actually met a couple from San Francisco. We learned that we have a lot in common and will likely meet again when we return to the States.
South Africa has been the most emotionally challenging for me. Because I have African roots, I identified strongly with the black community and was horrified by some of the things I heard that happened during apartheid and how remnants of history was affecting black South Africans today. Many times I was frustrated, saddened, angry, disgusted, and really repulsed by a lot of the stories and experiences I heard from talking to people both in the townships and the city. A couple times I went to my bed and just cried, thinking about all the horrible injustices that took place so recently in South Africa and similarly in the United States and how these people could easily be our brothers, sisters, mothers, etc. I talked with some classmates about the difference between empathy and pity and how empathy involves internalizing the feelings of others and really putting yourself in their position as opposed to simply feeling sorry, but relieved that you’re not in their shoes, which I think we often do. The stories I’ve heard in South Africa are really the foundations of my motivation and determination to pursue whatever my purpose in life may be. That way, these stories will always be with me and serve as a constant reminder of why I choose to be doing what I seek to do or changing what I seek to change. South Africa has taught me so much through its richness and I am excited to see how these experiences will play out in my life after my travels when I return to the States.