Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hello Everyone!

Sorry I haven't been a very good blogger, the internet isn't great in our house and we don't make it to the internet cafe very often. I had a really great week and have enjoyed my time in the township doing IT training. Two new groups arrived this past week from the US and are also working with SHAWCO in various internships and townships. One group is from Vanderbilt and one is from William & Mary. We went over to the Vanderbilt house on Thursday night and hung out with them for a while. It was weird being with so many Americans but it definitely felt like a Friday night in Blacksburg. We ended up going down to Long Street with them on Friday night too, it was a lot of fun.

Friday during the day at Khayelitsha we introduced the Internet to our participants. Some of these people are 40 years old and are just now creating their first email accounts. It was so cool seeing the smiles on their faces when they would receive an email from someone across the room. The whole room was emailing each other for two hours and it was just such a happy atmosphere. This week they'll get Facebook accounts and they are extremely excited about it. I realize that we're probably making a huge impact on these people's lives because they now have resumes and email accounts. But, I really feel like they're going to end up making a bigger impact on my life. I have become a much more patient person in just a week's time and am looking forward to the duration of my time with these people. One of my friends, Thozama is 37 and has two children and she always talks about how proud they are of their Mom. How sweet. On Friday she said to me, "so after this week, you're not coming back?" and I told her that I'd be working with the Holiday Project run by SHAWCO in Khayelitsha but tutoring children. She said, "so I might not ever see you again? You're not coming back?" I can't believe how close I've gotten to this woman in just one week. She has touched my life and I'll never forget my experience with her and Corentia.

On Saturday, we had a planned excursion out to Robben Island. This was where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years (he was held on the mainland for 9 years afterwards totaling 27 years in prison). I saw his cell, where he would play sports with his fellow inmates, and where he wrote his book. He is such an incredible man. Our tour guide has also given tours to Bill Cosby, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. Michelle was meant to have her tour last week but the weather didn't hold up.

TODAY was probably the best day I've had here. Despite my fear of sharks, and unwillingness to EVER watch Jaws, I decided to go shark cage diving with three other girls from our group. The company picked us up this morning around 8:30am and we had a two-hour bus ride out to Gansbaai. We were given a safety lesson (which probably would have been four times as long in the States) and got on the water shortly after we arrived. We had an insanely bumpy ride out to the cage and I saw some of the biggest waves I'd ever seen. The Atlantic Ocean is gorgeous. Ryan, Taryn, Jill, and our French friend, Alex were the second group to get in the cage. They nicknamed us the "screamers" because we literally were screaming the entire time. It was terrifying. We saw a total of five different sharks and they were all Great Whites. Where we were is home to the 3rd largest population of Great Whites in the entire world. The largest one we saw was about 12 feet long, but the pictures don't do it justice. I have never been so scared and excited at the same time. It was so much fun, I had the time of my life. Shoutout to Ryan so she will stop asking for a shoutout.
It's chilly here and the water was about 50 degrees, along with the air temperature so I was of course freezing today but it was so worth it.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend and that everything back home is going well!

Happy Birthday to my big brother David!

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