Alumni Spotlight: Rob Weidner

Rob Weidner is full of wanderlust. During his college career Rob traveled to four continents, six countries, 26 states, and will always have the adventure bug. He works in the film production industry and his time around the world has taught him the meaning of anything is possible. Rob’s advice for anyone even remotely thinking about traveling is to just do it – make it happen somehow, someway, and as soon as possible!

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Rob: When volunteering for Big Sky Productions in Cape Town, South Africa there truly was no typical day. Upon waking up in my house in Observatory, a bohemian suburb of Cape Town, I would enjoy a pot of french press coffee while sitting in my garden looking up at Lion’s Head mountain preparing for whatever the day may bring.

A bright red motorcycle made the commute to the photo studio, shooting location, or sandy beach extremely easy and affordable. When I went into the office, it would not be uncommon to find me at an editing computer piecing together a video for a client or photographing for a casting call for an upcoming shoot. There were days when I would look through hundreds of photos of beautiful potential shooting locations all around Africa and provide my input on the best ones.

One of the best parts of doing my internship through Volunteer Adventure Corps [VAC] was the Friday excursions organized for all of the interns in the program. Whether it was wine tasting with lions or a service project in a township, VAC encouraged all of their interns to embrace the beautiful culture of Cape Town and experience what the city has to offer.

Ten years from now, what's the one thing you'll remember from the trip?

Rob: Ten years from now I will without a doubt remember the feeling I had on my last day in Cape Town. I was so torn because I finally was doing what I loved professionally, in a place that I loved, and met friends that I loved. The only way that could stomach leaving this joyous place that I enjoyed so much was knowing that I was going to come back. I did not know when and I did not know in what fashion, but I knew I was not saying good-bye to South Africa.

Fast forward two years and one college diploma later, and I find myself traveling thirty hours across the world to move back to Cape Town, South Africa.

Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

Rob: Since my trip to Africa, I have traveled all around Japan and the United States and do not have any plans on stop exploring. Even though the world is a big place and there are so many remarkable gems spread out across the globe, if you make traveling and exploring a priority, the travel bug will never get out of your system. When flying is the only option, opt in to the carrier's rewards program and start establishing status to make the whole process more seamless. The idea of a ten hour drive used to sound intimidating but now I see it as not even half a days worth of traveling and extremely economical and effective if you have a lot of baggage.

What was the most interesting cultural difference you encountered?

Rob: While I was in Cape Town I became friends with a couple people living in various townships around the Mother City. Additionally, I worked with a few very successful photographers and directors who were living in the highest class of South Africa. The vast diversity in economic and social classes was the most interesting cultural difference. As you drive from the airport to downtown, there are a couple blocks of eye opening townships with visible poverty and yet you continue onwards towards Camps Bay and other suburbs of Cape Town and you will see houses fit for the front of a magazine.

My advice is to try and embrace both ends of the spectrum. For the most part, everyone in Cape Town is friendly and cordial and if you leave your judgement with the customs agents in the airport, you will find yourself having an authentic African meal with new friends and new surroundings.

Where would you most like to travel to next?

Rob: Next up on the travel list is Mozambique. With its proximity to South Africa, the feasibility is certainly there and I have heard many of people rave about their rum. Although there is slight turmoil in the country, the scuba diving, affordability, and tropical environment of the country is incredibly appealing.

Additionally, the Mediterranean coast has always been appealing to me. Wine and water have always been two great interests of mine and I would love to travel up and down the coast stopping at each little town along the way. Also, being a film and video buff, John Legend's "All Of Me" music video paints an ideal yet extremely unrealistic painting of how I envision myself boating along the Italian coast with my bride-to-be (just have to find one first).