I have always been drawn to, as well as interested in discovering, emerging markets. Having the opportunity to do the program on Doing Business in Africa through ISM, I was already excited about the program at the beginning of my studies. I began planning my trip to Cape Town during the summer and was counting days until my departure. In my previous blog, I shared my experience with the program itself. For this post, I will share my experience beyond the seminars.
Cape Town is a beautiful city with a good energy. I was staying at Sea Point, renting a room at an apartment of a very nice couple. My location, coupled with my very nice “roommates”, certainly added to the great experience. Furthermore, by being open minded and eager to get engaged in the lives of the locals, I made the most out of this trip.
I wanted to understand how a significant part of the South African people, especially children, live outside of richer areas of Cape Town—in townships (also known to some as slums)—and I looked for opportunities to engage with them through volunteering. However, given the small amount of time I had available, I had trouble securing any opportunities to volunteer. I didn’t let that discourage me; I continued to look until I found one.
On the last Sunday of my stay, I had the privilege to meet members of the local community in the Khayelitsha Township during their Sunday service. Despite the fact that I was alone, they welcomed me so warmly and made me feel like a part of their community. I was asked to give a speech to the children and their families. We talked about the value of education, focus and resilience. I used my personal background to make the speech more meaningful to them. After the service, I spent some more time having a personal conversation with the community’s children and their families.
In addition, I visited other townships, social innovative projects and a local company. I also didn’t miss sightseeing in Cape Town and its environs with my colleagues. We visited vineyards, Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, did a whale watching tour and took a tour of Boulder Beach to see the South African penguins.
Nature there was so beautiful, and the people I met, too. I truly had a wonderful and enriching experience in Cape Town during the program; one I will never forget.