The Great EsCape Town Reflection

Name: Brooklyn McDaniels

Type of Project: Service-Learning and Community Service

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

Traveling to Cape Town, South Africa was one of the most, if not the most fulfilling experiences of my entire life. We departed for our 14 day Journey on May 10, 2016. Our group of 10 students and two faculty advisors; Kurt Foriska and Dr. J, left Columbus as strangers and returned as a family. Upon arriving at The Backpack, our lovely hostel, we immediately began to get to know one another and immerse ourselves in the South African Culture. On our first full day we got to visit The Sakhulwazi Hub where we would spend most of our remaining days volunteering. Meeting Khaya and Mama Rose, the directors of Sakhulwazi, was by far one of the most memorable moments of the trip. At Sakhulwazi we engaged in a number of tasks such as planting herbs and flowers, creating efficient irrigation systems, cleaning up the grounds, and interacting with the Phillipi community. Outside of community service, the “Cape Crew” ate authentic meals, shopped, climbed Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope, explored Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, amongst many other meaningful activities.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

I know that I changed during the process of my STEP Signature Project because I came back feeling rejuvenated. I had a sense of fulfillment that I had never before experienced. My eyes were open to so many things that I had questioned before the trip. The transformation occurred in this midst of my Cape Town journey because not only was I accomplishing a goal that I always had, but I was also being thoroughly enriched through my adventure. I believe that this transformation was necessary for my well being because this year I taken on a number of projects and my Cape Town experience has allowed me to approach them in a more open minded and mature manner. img_0138 img_0331 img_0568 img_0475 img_0571 img_0573 img_0636 img_0638 img_0977 13315292_1052575984813061_509379536350782262_n

3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

We had the pleasure of visiting some of Phillipi’s elementary schools and daycare centers while in Cape Town. My heart was instantly stolen by the beautiful, young children I got to play and interact with. Not only were they some of the most outgoing, happy children I have ever met, but they were also unbelievably intelligent. At ages 3 and 4, they could completely understand what I was saying in English. Myself on the other hand had difficulty understanding their language known as “Nkosi”. Despite the language barrier, this was absolutely my favorite part of the trip.

Cape Town impacted me personally by allowing me to start my schooling all over again. Every aspect of this experience was foreign to me and therefore I had to approach the trip at an elementary level. From the language, culture, interaction, activities, etc. I was being re-taught things I knew how to do at home. Ultimately, I grew as an individual because my curiosity was stretched the furthest it has ever been.

There is so much to be learned from this experience abroad. Cape Town taught me the power of passion and perseverance. Mama Rosie and Khaya had nothing themselves but decided to dedicate their lives toward helping their impoverished community. They manage to wake up and smile everyday because they are truly passionate about their work at the Sakhulwazi Hub. With a limited amount of supplies and assistance, they persevere each day by harvesting crops, leading beading lessons, and providing a safe place for Phillipi citizens to gather and worship.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This experience shaped the way in which I would like to move forward with my academic, personal and life goals. It opened my eyes to the numerous types of development I can gain through travel and immersion in other cultures. Since returning from Cape Town, I have approached academic endeavors with much more of an open mind. Personally, I know that I have developed because I have become more considerate of other’s backgrounds and perspectives based on their culture. Finally, this journey has inspired me to involve myself in more international opportunities as this is the best time in my life to gain exposure to what the world has to offer.