Next Wednesday, we are leaving the coldest days of Southern California behind for the peak of Summer in South Africa.
This is one year since my last trip to Africa, although even my packing list is clear evidence of a completely different adventure ahead. Flip flops, a wide-brimmed hat, some clothes sprayed with bug repellant, and plenty of things to give away are at the top of our lists. But, I will take the same journal filled with drawings and a glue stick for all the other memories – from flower petals to bottle labels – that I plan to bring back. There will be a lot to learn from the culture and many of the people who we will visit who have suffered and survive.
I’m sure the warmth will be the first thing to help us relax and feel lost in the city. The warmth that resonates from the gleaming perfect smile of the vendor by the street, the little kid who stares when I talk, and hopefully of the conversation with the MBA student studying in South Africa. :) It’s actually a hot topic right now in the country, as each institutions’ accreditation was reviewed and in May, 10 institutions were not re-accredited. This leaves 6 fully accredited MBA programs, one of which is the University of Cape Town’s GSB. In the long term, I think this is especially important to attract local students who want to stay and help develop the country.
I realize we are by no means going to a completely impoverished country or city. Cape Town is often voted the best place to travel during the holidays! I will be paying particular attention to where the communities of rich and poor divide and how that issue is addressed in a country with such diverse a population.
I may be missing the company holiday party, but how can that compare with Agape orphange Christmas party we’ve been invited to? Especially since a BTC volunteer is going to fill the Orphanage Directors’ shoes, handing out presents to the kids as â€œFather Christmas”? It can’t!