Monday July 9, 2018
Update coming at ya from Sara, the International Director of GLA’s South Africa: Social Change Project. After an eventful pickup day, including many flights and several long naps (taken by the early arrivals), our entire group arrived in Johannesburg and back to our first stop- African Leadership Academy- late last night.
We’ve now had breakfast and are getting started on Day 1 of our ALA Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum. Everyone’s settling into the GLA routine and getting to know one other 🙂
Pictures included are of the early arrivals, as well as the full group getting into the leadership curriculum this morning.
Tomorrow, we tour Soweto! Wishing you all the best back home.
Tuesday July 10, 2018
Hey everyone back home!
Here’s an update from Brianne, the mentor on GLA’s South Africa: Social Change Project. Today was a very exciting day as we left our African Leadership Academy (ALA) campus and ventured to Soweto! Soweto is south of Johannesburg and is a city developed as a township for black people under the apartheid system.
Our day started off at Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers where we met our guide and together sang and danced to a version of the Lion Sleeps Tonight. By foot we started our three-hour trek throughout the township. During the tour we stopped at various sites to taste traditional delicacies like beef hearts, and gave high fives to the local children.
We had the opportunity to visit Nelson Mandela’s house, bargain at the local market and spend time at the Hector Peterson memorial and museum. The Hector Peterson memorial was dedicated to the twelve-year-old boy who was the first to be shot during the June, 16th 1976 student uprising in Soweto. We learned a lot about the student uprising last night while watching and discussing the movie, Sarafina. We ended the tour with a South African favorite— Braai (barbeque).
We traveled back to campus and had a wonderful reflection about what we experienced during the tour and concluded with a few lessons on leadership. We look forward to a full day of leadership curriculum tomorrow at ALA!
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Hello GLA Families!
Today we had Entrepreneurial Leadership class with our wonderful teachers, Won-Sun and Smanga. For the last two days, we have each been working on solving selected issues either within our communities or globally that we want to address. They have led us through various exercises both in and out of the classroom to teach us to view our issues as opportunities to help others.
Our ‘experiential’ outside activities today consisted of dropping an egg from the top of a building with only two pieces of string, 2 pieces of newspaper, 30cm of tape, and scissors, and putting together a picture book story using only the descriptions of our images to put them in chronological order. These various activities have provided fun and interesting ways to teach us prototyping, communication, and the various forms of leadership seen in all of us.
Today inside the classroom we mainly focused on how to specifically breakdown different aspects of our ‘opportunities’ and address them head-on. This involved writing down as many solutions to our issue as possible (literally anything from developing social policies to calling Batman), formulating need statements, solution statements, SMART goals, and WORM assessments.
After breaking down our goals and figuring out which route we wanted to take in addressing our chosen issue, we created a business plan. For me, this made me see how huge issues could be organized in tackled in the real world. After developing our plans, we created 2 minute pitches to present to our peers. It was very interesting to see how everyone decided to tackle problems in their own unique ways and present them in a sales pitch.
Additionally, Won-Sun and Smanga taught us some traditional African dance moves! As fun as it was, the video is pretty terrible, so it’s probably best it isn’t included in the blog.
All in all, our time in Johannesburg has been amazing! The food has been good (lots of rice, chicken, and veggies), the campus is beautiful, we have all become so close, and the lessons we have learned in the classroom as well as the ways they taught us to perceive and tackle issues is something that will stick with me forever.
We head onto Cape Town tomorrow, and I am so excited to see what’s in store both at the school with the kids and in the city!
More updates to come!
-Emerson Cilley (Hi Mom and Dad, love and miss you both <33)
Friday July 13, 2018
Yesterday we arrived in Cape Town. It’s a big transition from the brown landscape of Johannesburg with the very green lush landscape. Luckily for Cape Town, we’ve had two days of rain since we got here. We met our new host, Gail and got settled into the new home base. The new home base is a newly renovated hostel with beautiful common rooms, big bed rooms and a great view of Table Mountain. There’s a chef here (Coll) that makes most of our food from scratch and gives the extras to local families.
Today we drove through Du Noon and saw the schools we will be volunteering at on the trip, went to the market and went on a walking tour of Cape Town. We also went and talked to the owner of a grocery store downtown that is 100% plastic free called Nude Foods.
-by Ryan Durbin
Saturday July 14, 2018
We had to wake up early for breakfast and to be out the door by 7 (which I don’t even do on a school day). A few of us were up for breakfast, but some of us were a little slower and had to eat breakfast on the go.
As a group, we walked to the bus station and took the bus into the city. The bus was kind of boring, but at least we weren’t stuck in traffic! From there, we got onto a tour bus and they drove us to Hout Bay while our excellent tour guide, Bill, shared the history of South Africa’s colonization. We all stopped inside a small coffee shop while we waited for our boat.
After attaining enough coffee and hot cocoa to function for the day, we went to find our boat. It was called the “Calypso.” Once boarded, we took off towards Seal Island, where a big troop of seals was resting and swimming. The sea very choppy. We didn’t stay out in the water long before docking again.
Once back on land, we got back on our tour bus and drove to Table Mountain National Park. We unloaded the bikes that were on the trailers connected to our busses and started to pedal towards our picnic destination. This is where things started to get a little… well, a little crazy.
Vishnu immediately took the lead of the bike line. He was FAST. At first I warned him that he should conserve his energy, but this boy was just really hungry or something because he never slowed down. I soon lost sight of him and a few others. I got about 2/3 of the way to the to the picnic area before the second bus caught up to me and offered to drive me the rest of the way.
I gladly accepted and was quickly followed into the bus by Carson, Ryan Yap, Silvia, Pilar, and Brianne. However, we only got over the next hill before we stopped again! Vishnu, the early front runner, had gotten his jeans stuck in his bike and tipped over!! Sara had to cut the bottom of his jeans just to free him, while he insisted that we take pictures of this debacle for his Instagram. Luckily, no one got hurt and Vishnu climbed back up onto his bike and rode all the way to the picnic destination 😊
After eating a wonderful meal, we drove to Cape Point to see the Lighthouse and the Cape of Good Hope, which was renamed from “The Stormy Cape” for PR reasons. We hiked up to the Cape Point Lighthouse, then hiked down the Cape of Good Hope Scenic Trail. By this point, we were all exhausted, but it was finally time to see the PENGUINS!
The entire tour, my motivation (and a couple other people’s) was to see the penguins. We drove 30 minutes from The Cape of Good Hope to see the African Penguins at Boulder Beach in Simon Town. They were all so cute!!! The babies and their parents were all huddled together in groups. We even saw one juvenile make a break for the sea while his mother chased him and tried to pull him back to shore. The entire time everyone was looking at the penguins, Vishnu was in a very intense conversation with our tour guide about history. Unfortunately, we only got to hang out with the penguins for a little while because their protected area closed at 5 😭
We hopped back onto the bus and started the long drive home, while Bill continued filling us in on Cape Town’s history. We were so tired that a few of us, including me, fell asleep on the way home. Bill, the tour guide, was even nice enough to drive us all the way home instead of taking us to the bus stop.
We all poured into the house where food was prepared and settled down to eat. After consuming a pot of homemade tomato soup and, like, three loaves of cheesy bread, it was time to announce the next leader of the day/blog writer. The person I chose, I chose because they were always positive, always enthusiastic, and never complained. Tomorrow’s leader of the day will be Vishnu!
-by Lucy Hall
Sunday July 15, 2018
Today we had an optional early morning hike that five individuals decided to go on, including myself. (The objective of the hike was to see the sunrise from the Lionshead mountain in Cape Town) As leader of the day – and as an avid hiker through my years in the Boy Scouts – I elected to venture on this hike. A hike I did not know would involve getting my PhD in gymnastics, and my masters in climbing. I had to scale rocks, hold onto chains, and jam my size twelve feet into minuscule openings.
As I went up, with my hands burning from the white-knuckle grip of the chain, my knees bursting after driving my legs up into the rock, and my feet aching after the constant pressure on them, I was able to make it to the top. So when I rose to the top and saw nothing but beauty I smiled, then I removed my phone from my pocket and began snapping pictures. This hike proves beyond reasonable doubt that hard work pays off.
After the brutal hike I came home and lowered my sweaty body into my bed and closed my eyes. I awoke to prompts from one of the camp directors that we were going to the mall. I had no time to comb my hair so I went to the mall looking like a monkey. I picked out new pants – after all, I had just torn my old ones in a bike crash yesterday. I also picked up some snacks – a bottle of iced tea and some protein bars – and I selected few packs of gum. As I bought food, the girls bought clothes, and shopped for shoes.
Once our trip to the mall concluded I went back to bed for a bit. In addition to the brutal hike, I’d gotten very little sleep the previous night as I spent two hours teaching Okome about the Cold War. When I woke, we went to Big Bay Beach. I got exemplary photos of Table Mountain, and watched the sunset. Today, some members of our group got to watch both sunrise and sunset! Today we learned what it means to work hard and what it means to relax.
-By Vishnu D. Raghavan
Monday July 16, 2018
Today was our first real day at the HoneyBee school! We got to know the kids in the morning by singing songs and then split into the different classrooms for the rest of the day. Each of us spent the morning one-on-one with about 3 or 4 of the school kids, and were even called teachers by the little students 🙂 It was so amazing to get to know each of their personalities so well throughout the day! For kids who are so small, they have so much bubbly energy!
To start off, we each had “stations” we directed, and then we went over how to draw the number 5! Afterwards, we had an activity about the chilly African winters where we made cutouts of clouds and rain with the children. The day was filled with lots of laughs, singing, hair “styling”, smiles, and learning curves – needless to say, it exceeded expectations.
Around noon, we left for the Dunoon Recreational Center, where we had the privilege to hear 3 local entrepreneurs talk about how they formulated, started, and adapted each of their businesses. It was so inspiring to hear 3 people from all different backgrounds bring their passions to the forefront of their lives with their entrepreneurial spirits. In addition, we got to hear 2 girls from the Dunoon township present TED talks. They are actually scheduled to give their speeches in New York in November! This is a huge deal for this community, most of who have never even stepped foot out of South Africa. However, because Ted is not covering traveling expenses, these girls need to fund the airfare to NYC on their own. The community is coming together to raise these funds, and they have a link where you can donate that I’ll include here in case anyone is interested in donating to their campaign. Every little bit helps! 🙂
Link to fundraising campaign: https://www.givengain.com/cause/3949/campaigns/17908/
To end our time at the rec center, we got to watch a group of young boys and girls dance for us. I was truly amazed at how young some of the kids were and how synchronized the dancing was!
I know we all are so looking forward to seeing all of the kids tomorrow and continuing to build our relationships with the community of Dunoon 🙂
More updates to come!
Tuesday July 17, 2018
We woke to a bright day, determined to make an even brighter day for the children in the Dunoon Township in Cape Town. The group went downstairs and ate a hasty breakfast of oatmeal and cheap coffee before hopping onto the bus. Half an hour later we arrived in front of the Honeybee Daycare Center, and though minuscule in stature, it was gargantuan in heart. Today would be our second day at the center and immediately we saw a plethora of familiar faces from the day before in a euphoric anticipation for us. Like the previous day, we started with some songs and games for the kids. While I do not recall the exact rules of the first game I do remember the entire teaching staff being swarmed by laughing children with seemingly limitless energy.
The kids retained the energy throughout the day as we continued teaching them about winter – the current unit. During our time we were able to present an activity that some of our members had planned. We worked with the kids to color in and cut out shapes to form penguins and sang some penguin-related songs. As we worked, it was apparent that while some children were quiet as they focused others broke into tears fighting amongst each other. Though there were bright spots it was still a long morning at the center.
We left to eat our boxed salads at around noon. After lunch, we got to play some sports with some of the locals in Dunoon. They taught us a game which was a mix of kickball and dodgeball which was really fun. Then, Vishnu and I had some good conversations, while the rest of the group played hockey with the locals. As we spoke we handed out water to some of the children from the tub that we brought. We shared some and they unexpectedly came back with the tub of water refilled. This caught us by surprise but it really showed us how outgoing and thoughtful the people of Dunoon are.
After a tiring day of children and sports, we returned to our home base where we got to relax. After relaxation, we came down to a dinner of sloppy joes. After this we took an anonymous survey of how we liked the GLA program. After answering the questions to the survey some of us had a match of Monopoly while others elected to Instagram, Snapchat, or talk amongst each other.
-by Ryan Yap (& some help from Vishnu)
Wednesday July 18, 2018
Today, for Mandelas 100th birthday we got 15 extra minutes of sleep. We later went a government funded school. We played with the kids for a bit and then made hotdogs for all 660 students there! We had a bunch of extras so we got to eat some too.
We then went to Cape Town’s Eastern Market and ate Cape Malay food, which tasted really good. After lunch, we went to the District 6 Museum and talked to a guy named Noor who survived Apartheid and forced relocation from his home in District 6. Then we went back to the market and bought ice cream. At night, we watched a movie called A Long Walk to Freedom, about Mandela’s life. Tomorrow, we’re visiting Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for much of his life.
Thursday July 19, 2018
Yesterday was a day full of activities and adventures.
In the morning, we woke up at 7AM as usual and had breakfast at 7:30. We got onto the bus at 8:15 and went to Honey Bee’s, the school where we do service every week day. We sang some songs, played with them and drew the number 6!
At 11AM we headed to the V&A Waterfront to have lunch and at 1PM took our boat to Robben Island. We arrived there and got onto a bus so we could see the island. The bus dropped us at the entrance of Robben Island Jail and we had the luck of getting assigned a tour guide who was a prisioner there at the same time as Nelson Mandela was there.
We returned to the port and watched an intense “fight” between a street performer statue-man and Vishnu. So much fun! When we returned home we ate a really good meal made by Coll. Yummy! At night we talked about Apartheid and how we connect what happened here to our own communities. We reflected a lot and then had free time!
Friday July 20, 2018
We shuffled out of the door at 8:15, after a hearty breakfast, and made our way to the Honeybee Daycare Center in the Dunoon township. We spent three hours working with the children, and we specifically focused on helping them learn to draw the number seven. We also made a mitten craft to close out our “winter” theme for the week. To be honest, we spend a vast majority of our time ensuring that the children do not fight with each other.
Some days we go sightseeing after service, but today we came back to our Home Base, where we spent two and a half hours playing a highly intense game of Monopoly. We then shuffled to our rooms where we either slept, read Business Day (Vishnu) or exercised. During this time, I made banana bread, which got rave reviews from the group.
At around 5 PM, we had a lesson on how to articulate our experiences in college essays. We then worked on lesson planning for the next day. At around 7 PM, we had a dinner of cheeseburgers. After dinner, some of us made s’mores, spent time in our rooms, watched movies, and hung out. Tomorrow we hike Table Mountain!
-by Carson Schraer, with help from Vishnu D. Raghavan & Ryan Yap
Saturday July 21, 2018
Today was an exciting day. In the morning we had breakfast at 8:00 and after, we went to Table Mountain to hike it. It took us 2 hours and a half to get to the top, but at the end we all made it up there. The hike was brutal, we had to stop several times because of the tiredness and the difficulty of the path, but when we got to the top all the suffering was worth it! The view was outstanding. We had all the city at our feet. After taking a lot of pictures we went down in the cable car.
After, we went to a picnic place to have lunch. We bought amazing burguers, poke bowls and hot chocolates. When we were full we headed to a mall. Even though it was a really expensive artists market we managed to buy a few things and went to another mall where we bought more snacks. It was 6 when we returned home to have a great soup cooked by Coll. The rest of the afternoon was free time. We showered and watched a movie. After we went to bed to get some rest.
-By Pilar 🙂
Sunday July 22, 2018
Hello GLA families!
Today we had the amazing opportunity to visit the first people to settle South Africa; the San, at !Khwa Ttu Cultural Village. We learned why and how their languages and culture have evolved, and have begun to go extinct. We also learned why animal tracks are important – if you were unable to recognize the tracks of a certain animal, you would not be able to survive in the conditions the San people faced. We also learned the hunting gathering methods they used, the way their jewelry was created, the cultural norms of marriage proposals, and how to play a thumb piano. After our visit to the Khwa Ttu reserve, we went to have a twelve course seafood meal at a restaurant by the beach in Mykonos.
The courses started with mussels in their shells and bread with butter. Next, we had fish curry – a truly delicious dish – with more freshly baked bread. We moved on to beef curry, and three different types of fish followed. We then had beef, crayfish, lobster and dessert. To say the meal was delicious would be an understatement – the spicy dishes flowed down our throats, leaving behind an aftertaste of cumin, potato, and the unmistakable flavor of soft beef and fish.
Even the most picky of eaters were exhausted from the nonstop intake of food. A plethora of individuals stated that the seafood meal – a meal that is seldom consumed in the homes of a vast majority of the individuals – was the best meal that they have ever had in their lives. Feeling the zesty lemon with the salty crayfish was so memorable. I was unable to see a single individual who did not empty the shells of the crayfish or leave nothing but bones and shells behind for all of the courses.
After the meal, we slugged our full bellies to the beach only centimeters from our dining area. Walking after such a gargantuan fill was a Herculean task. We – despite gale force winds – took selfies with the beach and the mountains in the distance. Unfortunately, one person’s cap was blown into the water and a stranger was forced to rescue his cap. A plethora of individuals saw this as a main highlight when the man chased the cap like Neymar chases a ball.
At around five we did lesson planning – after all, we will be back to teaching small children tomorrow – and constructed crafts for the children to use during our service projects. At around eight we had a light lasagna dinner and then went up to our rooms to do our group laundry. To wrap up the night, some people watched a movie while others went to bed early to rest up for the week ahead.
-Sage Lovos and Vishnu D. Raghavan
Monday July 23, 2018
Hello GLA Families!
We had a very busy, fun-filled Monday today! The day started off with service at the Honeybee School, where we sang the Penguin Song, the Peel Banana Song, and “Building Up A Temple for the Lord.” Vishnu also led the kids in a round of Simon Says. Afterwards, we read a story to the class, and then began working on writing the number 7. Although a very simple task to us, we found that there is a wide learning gap when it comes to drawing and counting numbers. For our arts and crafts project, we made snakes out of paper links. This activity allowed the kids to practice their fine motor skills, coloring, and counting. Over all, we had a very successful morning with the adorable students, leaving them with an overwhelming amount of hugs and kisses. I think we have all formed very close relationships with the students and have learned to appreciate how much they look up to and respect us.
After tutoring at the school, we embarked on a lengthy bus ride to a safari park. Shortly after finishing our avocado turkey sandwiches during the ride, we arrived on the beautiful, green 4000 acre preserve. We got into safari cars that looked like they came out of Jurassic World. Our tour guides drove us along rugged dirt paths to see giraffes (their gestation period is 15 months!), zebras, antelopes, elan, emus (they’re super ugly), and a couple other animals. We were able to get pretty close to each of the animals, especially the giraffes. Unlike the zebras and elans, who ran away from our car, they were curious to see us. Unfortunately, we did not spot any gnus. While we did not go on our safari during prime animal-spotting time, we were very lucky to see as many animals as we did.
When we got back to our hostel, we enjoyed a yummy pasta and salad dinner, followed by a leadership activity centered around the 5 pillars of GLA: live your values, be courageous, uncover solutions, take action, and connect and influence. We each identified which pillar related to why we chose to come on this program, and which pillar we have grown in the most. Through these leadership activities, I have been able to learn a lot about my group mates, and thus get closer to them.
We spent the rest of the evening teaching Vishnu how to do the Cha-Cha Slide and Cupid’s Shuffle (it was not pretty), and Silvia taught Emerson some boxing moves. Ryan and Kome made hot chocolate for the group, and then we settled down to watch a movie and play Monopoly. Over all, today held many eventful and unique experiences for our group. We made major progress with the Honeybee students, we can now all say that we have seen a wild giraffe, and our friendships got stronger over hot chocolate and board games.
Tuesday July 24, 2018
We returned to the Home Base and ate penne pasta and spinach and feta salad for dinner. After dinner, some people wanted to play Monopoly, while others went to their rooms to relax, exhausted from the long day of sports.
Wednesday July 25, 2018
Hello! Wednesday was such a colorful day!
In the morning we went as usual to Honey Bee’s and played with the kids. We also made big progress on our mural. Yes, we are painting a school’s wall to make it look colorful and it looks outstanding!
At lunch time, Gail drove us to Bo-Kaap and had a Cape Malay cooking class, we ate what we made! It was delicious! Later on, out tour guide Latifa walked us all over the zone which is super colorful.
In the afternoon, Carla, the founder of the SAVE (Southern African Volunteer Experiences) Foundation, talked to us about how she made it where she is. We had dinner at Salty Crax, one of her hostels, alongside some of her longer term volunteers.
At night we had an intense tickle fight! Hilarious!
And that was our day.
Thursday July 26, 2018
Yesterday, we finished our mural at Honey Bee’s. We’ve been working hard since Monday to bring a little more color into their hallway. It was really fun working with the paints as the preschoolers tried to get our attention by shouting “TEACHER! TEACHER!”
At one point, we were painting down the hall and Conner, the toddler of one of the teachers, came out into the hall. Conner is a very independent child. At just 12 months old he walks very well, hardly ever cries, and knows what he wants. If Conner doesn’t care, he won’t wait, he’ll find something interesting. What interested Conner was the wet paint on the wall. He raised up two hands and “splat!!” Slammed them down onto the half dry paint. Luckily the paint didn’t smear off onto his hands, but for a second I was scared.
Once everything was finished, all the GLA students and teachers lined up in the hall to have their hand painted before placing it on the wall in a circle around the sun. It looks very nice.
After finishing at the school, we went home to relax and hang out. We played another heated game of Monopoly and then did a mini debate/discussion/problem solving activity about the 2014 Brazilian FIFA World Cup and its impact on children living in the favelas. After dinner, we played celebrity before finally going to bed suuuuuuppper late (at least for me, it was like midnight).
Hello GLA families,
Here is the blog about our last day.
Our last day was amazing and intense and filled with extremely difficult tearful goodbyes. In the morning, we went to the Honeybee school for the last time, and gave the kids a special goodbye snack and dance party. They amazed us with their dance moves and their openheartedness; making it very difficult for us to say our goodbyes. Somehow, in two weeks, we had grown to love those kids very dearly. They strongly impacted each and every one of us in a way that I never expected, but am eternally grateful for.
When we got home, we had the sad task of packing our bags. We took one last walk to one of the beautiful beaches within Cape Town, and we got ice cream and coffee and enjoyed some of our last moments together. Later when we were back home, we sat down and wrote letters of gratitude to all of the many people who sacrificed their time helped us out around the hostel and in Cape Town.
In the evening we went to a very nice 10 course dinner at the Gold restaurant downtown. It was delicious food from countries all over the continent, including South Africa. There were traditional dancers who gave us three performances which were truly amazing and brought us up to dance with them. We then saw a once in a lifetime lunar eclipse from the balcony in the restaurant, in which the moon appeared fiery red. After dinner, we had a drumming lesson at the restaurant, which was a perfect end to the trip.
As we go back to our lives at home, we will always cherish the time we have had together here. We have all learned and grown so much – individually and together – in ways I honestly never imagined. Thank you, GLA!