Kayla and Anja
Traveling all the way to South Africa for a civic engagement program, we never expected to meet someone from home. We had never met before, yet we had mutual friends, worked out at the same gym for the past four years, and live about 5 minutes away from each other.
From our newfound friendship, thanks to our time spent in South Africa, we decided to interview each other regarding our experiences in South Africa and share some of our responses with you.
“Everything [Kayla] does is with with care and effort. Being around that, whether that is watching you play soccer with the kids (they all look up to you so much!) or watching you run 300m sprints in the 20-meter square workout room in the gym, is inspiring. ” – Anja Zehfuss
Kayla: Anja, what has been your favorite part of this experience in South Africa so far?
Anja: I have loved working with the children in the ACJ camp, but what has been the coolest about this has been observing the other Duke and Stanford members assist the kids in learning sports fundamentals. One day in particular, Amelia and I planned the day and ended up watching everyone run rugby stations. Seeing everyone (but specifically Kayla, she is so patient and good with kids) run drills, go into huddles, and cheer on the kids while they competed with each other was one of the highlights of my time so far.
Anja: Kayla, right back atcha. Favorite part?
Kayla: My favorite part of this experience so far was also working the sports camp for the kids in the township of Nomzamo. It was truly amazing to see the other Duke and Stanford student-athletes rise up to the challenges of teaching sports they have never played to children of various ages who often did not speak English. The kids were so friendly and ready to learn whatever we had to teach them, but ironically, they often knew more about the sports of rugby and netball then their “teachers!”
“With [Anja’s] contagious personality you get along with almost anyone, and that was evident with the way you interacted with the children and women that we worked with as well as how you seamlessly bonded with the rest of the Duke and Stanford students in our group. You make everyone feel welcome, and are passionate about spending time with the people around you and ‘just chillin.'” – Kayla McCoy
Kayla: Anja, in what ways has rowing at Stanford prepared you for the work you are doing here in South Africa?
Anja: Rowing has taught me to work hard for long periods of time, and power through difficult situations. As a group, we have spent long periods of time outside, thinking on our feet and keeping the kids entertained even when we had to change our plans and be flexible. Also, having to train and go to the gym after having a full day of playing sports and games with children was exhausting and difficult, but thankfully I have a lot of experiences with long days at Stanford, so it was doable.
Anja: What is the coolest thing you have learned about me during our time here in South Africa?
Kayla: One of the coolest things that I have learned about you is that you are a very relational person. With your contagious personality you get along with almost anyone, and that was evident with the way you interacted with the children and women that we worked with as well as how you seamlessly bonded with the rest of the Duke and Stanford students in our group. You make everyone feel welcome, and are passionate about spending time with the people around you and “just chillin.” Also, we are both from Chicago which automatically means you are super cool!
Kayla: What is something that you have learned about me through working together these three weeks?
Anja: Everything you do, you do with care and effort. Being around that, whether that is watching you play soccer with the kids (they all look up to you so much!) or watching you run 300m sprints in the 20-meter square workout room in the gym, is inspiring. Your work ethic is awesome to be around.
Anja: Is there a particular part of South African history that you have found reflected in our time here? What is one of the more interesting things you have learned about South Africa while we have been here?
Kayla: The part of South African history that I have found most fascinating is the history of Apartheid and its effects on the various groups of people within South Africa. We have had several different individuals share about their experiences with Apartheid from various points of view. A Stanford professor also visited the group and shared about Apartheid from a global perspective. The remnants of Apartheid are still evident within the communities of South Africa, so learning about them from various speakers paired with visiting different townships and communities broadened my view of South African culture and society.