Dagse! To those of you unfamiliar, this is Afrikaans, a language I was able to learn during my time in South Africa. As I stood in the JFK Airport, I was incredibly nervous. However, the other volunteers were very friendly, I still chat with most to this day, and the volunteer project had profound implications.
I had wanted to travel to Africa to experience the diverse culture, and also experience one of the world's last strongholds for wildlife. Although I was able to work on a reserve (Mesebe game reserve in the Limpopo region) and photograph some of the most beautiful animals on Earth, I was impacted even more so through the humanitarian efforts. Twice, I travelled to the village school to assist teaching. Working with adults and grade-school children really gave me a chance to impact lives and have my own impacted as well. The kids always had the biggest smiles oddly enough, were captivated by the exotic culture I represented! The short time spent with these children was enough to promise myself a return, to see their faces once again. The village where I stayed (Telekishi) was just outside a smaller town, and I would frequently discover children lingering around, waiting for the volunteers to offer a game of soccer. Sweetest kids ever. At the end of the trip, these kids drew me illustrations in my notebook, and I gave them my bracelets.
The time spent with the schoolchildren, and the kids near Telekishi, has determined my joining Peace Corps. Spending time with these kids, sharing stories from America, and listening to their stories of Africa, or their favorite animals, has influenced and drawn a career path. I am currently enrolled in a TESOL (teaching english to students of other languages) program in hopes of returning to the Limpopo region with the Peace Corps. I cannot imagine my life without seeing everyone I met in South Africa once again.
Of course, the two weeks I spent traveling were remarkable, and I created memories that even now, while writing this review, I am able to relive. If you have a passion for wildlife, these two weeks will seem like reverie. I recall spending HOURS admiring a leopardess. I sat in silence perfectly content, stunned by such beauty!
From spending time teaching in schools and playing soccer with kids, to humbly observing African wildlife, this experience has provided me with unforgettable memories and an unquenchable thirst for traveling!