Visiting Knysna wasn't just a work based learning project for me, it was an adventure, where I developed academic skills as well as personal, such as time management, organisational, confidence, motivation and perseverance. My South African adventure was an eye opener.
Volunteering at EDGE of AFRICA is one of my most fantastic and rewarding achievements. I imagine it as an inspiring story that I am never afraid to tell. I will forever remember and cherish the memories that were created with my team, the staff and most importantly the local people. It was the local people who made my trip so memorable and special, they put life into perspective for me. In the UK we worry about being up-to-date with the latest technology, in Knysna they worry about being able to provide a pair of shoes for their child. It broke my heart to see such scenes, however, then I thought to myself, wait a minute, these people are surprisingly happy and always have a smile on their faces. And that's the moment where I thought, this is what life is all about. To appreciate the simplest things for example, when I gave the school children each a pencil, they were so delighted they kept it safe and hugged me to say how thankful they were.
The staff at EDGE of AFRICA are phenomenal, they are down to earth, friendly and caring. My South African adventure wouldn't have been the same without the EDGE team by my side. When I was homesick or having a bad day I could always rely on a member of the team to cheer me up and make me laugh again. It was the connectedness of the team that I loved, EDGE felt like my second family.
One of my most treasured experiences that will always stay with me is visiting the Rastafarian community. They are so cool! One message that I took away with me was that diversity is a main factor within society. It is the diverse cultures of this earth that makes the world go round. The more cultures that you discover, the more open-minded you will become and the more open-minded you are as a person, the more understanding you are towards others.
Roar! Now for the beautiful wildlife and natural landscapes. Addo Elephant National Park is one for you to tick off your bucket list. There is nothing more moving than seeing animals such as elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes and rhinos in their natural habitats on a safari. Did I mention that I also did horse back riding with giraffes? Oh, and went shark cage diving at Mossel Bay? See my photos if you don't believe me.
If there is one message to take away from my experience it is to appreciate what you have.