After spending what felt like an eternity (but more like 17 hours) in the air we finally touch downed in Cape Town, South Africa, late Sunday night! While it was nearly impossible to tell I was in a foreign country in the late night 45 minute drive from the airport to Gordon’s Bay, the next morning the beautiful mountains, the brisk air, and the wildlife confirmed I was in a place I had never been before.
As with any foreign country, this place is very different from America. One of the most pronounced differences was the wealth disparity. Within miles of each other are homes made out of tin in townships and wealthy estates in gated communities. Here in South Africa people are characterized into three categories: white, colored, and black. White people are of Afrikaner or British descendant; black people are of African descendant; and colored people are a mix of the two.
We volunteered at a grade school in Nomzamo, a local township which held solely black children. The kids were so enthusiastic and I had a blast interacting with them (especially when I was able to jump in a pickup soccer game during their lunch break) what struck me, however, was the lack of resources and opportunity these children had, and hard it was for them to succeed. For example, South Africa has 11 different national languages, but starting in fourth grade tests are administered in English. Say a child’s first language is Xhosa, then it could be very difficult for him to do well on tests if he doesn’t even understand the questions.
At one point we asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up, and a little boy said to me, “The president.” I really hope he grows up to be the President of South Africa, but the thought that kept running through my head was the sheer amount of obstacles he has to overcome to graduate to even high school and college are tremendous.