South Africa

South Africa- Andrew Rice

When I got off the airplane and stepped onto the bus that was going to take us to our new home for the next three weeks I was in bewilderment of the scenery that was put before me. Nothing that I have ever seen in my life looked so nice. Driving on the left side of the road was one of the many things that I grew accustomed too over my three weeks abroad. The next day we woke up and got introduced to all the people that will be helping us over the course and I have never been more welcomed to a foreign area. I had no clue what to think about this country that I had just got too, but I was soon to find out just how amazing South Africa is.

Our very first week in South Africa was a week of non-stop tourism and being able to see the beautiful country. One of the very first things we did, to get to know each other, was to go to a braai (picnic) at Ivy’s, who is one of Jan’s good friends. When we were at Ivy’s was when I first got my cultural shock in South Africa. We had a traditional meal of cooked beef and lamb, spinach, corn, and white flour dish. We ate all this in a little bowl with our hands and drank luke-warm water but I wouldn’t change that for anything because I would never have had that if I didn’t go over to South Africa. After we got done eating we blocked off a road and had a small dance circle. We showed them how we danced, and they showed us how they danced and it was quite amazing to see all the different cultures. After we got done dancing for two hours we got back on the bus and went back to our house.

I loved every part of this trip so much and wish every single person got the chance that I got to see one of the most amazing places that I have ever been to. The best part about the trip is how it affected my life. All the way from the small stuff like how much I missed iced drinks and how they aren’t a thing over in South Africa because it is so expensive to make ice, or even how I noticed how big carpooling is over in South Africa because they can’t afford a car and really want to save on carbon emissions. This shows me that we need to do more of this over in the States just so that we can be more like South Africa. I know from going on this trip, I will always keep apart of South Africa with me so that then I can give the story of the people over in South Africa that I experienced. From getting accustomed to the people of South Africa, I learned that you need to value more of the important people in your life and the basic needs in your life that you must have instead of valuing the wants you have in your life. South Africa is a place where you can find yourself while seeing the world and I can’t wait to go back to this beautiful city.

-Andrew Rice


Africa, South Africa

ACES: HDFS Study Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa

Aside from working at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, I was amazed at all the sights we were able to see during the trip. A meaningful aspect from the trip for me was when we visited some of the townships in South Africa. Since apartheid, these communities are historically impoverished areas inhabiting all Black populations. Although these areas look to be very poor, the sense of community that the residents have with each other is very inspiring. While visiting Ivy’s township of Delft, it was amazing to see all of the neighbors greeting her with such warmth and compassion. After dinner that evening, it was great that we got to interact with some of the other people in the township. After a long day at work and especially during the holiday, spending time with family continues to be an important aspect of this community. That is something I really admired and was inspired to see.

Some of our other adventures included hiking up the Cape of Good Hope, visiting Table Mountain, going to the beach, visiting the apartheid museum, Nelson Mandela’s home, bargaining for authentic souvenirs, and trying so many amazing new foods. Overall, my experience abroad was unforgettable and such a great learning experience. I would encourage everyone to partake in a program relating to their academic and extracurricular interests because the experiences you will have are well worth the journey. #ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad #imagineaces

-Vanessa Farrow


Africa, South Africa

Tamarrian Johnson Cape Town, South Africa, University of Illinois UC GBL 298

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My experience in Cape Town was one that I will not forget. It took me out of my comfort zone, and ultimately, I learned so much, and took on a lot of firsts. The hostel we lived in was filled with the most friendly people I have interacted with in a long time. They made me feel comfortable and welcome the entire two weeks I was there with their hospitality. Within the first few days aside from learning, my group was able to go to Table Mountain National Park to watch the sunset. It was so breath taking! It’s definitely something that you wouldn’t see here in the US! The mountain hovered right above the Atlantic Ocean. I also cabled up Table Mountain! We were 1,067M high! When we got to the top, we were literally in the clouds! A day that stood out to me was when we went to the Cape Flats. The people we met had so much life in them despite of what they were going through. The most beautiful thing about them was that they wanted to be educated about their circumstances and how to fight them, and then they wanted to teach others like them to stop the cycle. The fact that they wanted to be aware and act on their issue is what I believe is the key to fighting adversity, as we have been shown throughout history.


Tamarrian Johnson


South Africa

ACES Study & Intern in Cape Town


Ever since stepping off the plane at Cape Town international airport, my first month in this beautiful city has been an extraordinary experience. During my first week, my school and internship had not started yet so some of the other new interns and I set to make the most of our free time and explore the city! Taking the red bus tour which starts in the city center we toured botanical gardens, a township and Hout Bay all while taking in the scenery of the city, mountains and ocean and learning about Cape Town on the ride to our destinations. This was a great first experience because it allowed me to see parts of the city that I have never seen before and I learned just how large the city really is and I realized that Cape Town seems to be more of a region than a city.

I have been at my internship site for two weeks now and while it can get pretty busy at times, the work is rewarding and I am learning new things every day. My company, Impumelelo is affiliated with the University of Stellenbosch Business School and we focus on evaluating and potentially providing funding for social enterprises throughout Cape Town. Occasionally I will go into the field to visit the social enterprise to aid in my evaluation and ask more questions. Today I met with Growbag which is a social enterprise that donates home gardening bags,equipment and gardening lessons to underprivileged areas and townships throughout the city. One Growbag can provide enough vegetables to feed a family of 4. We still have much more work to do on this project as we have to finish our evaluations and decide with our sponsors on whether or not funding should be given to this company.

My work ends at 4 pm but that does not mean it is the end of the day for me here in Cape Town. With the sunset at around 7:45 pm everyday there is plenty of time to go to the beach or go hiking with my friends. I usually go home and quickly change and by that time a lot of my friends are home from their internship sites so usually a few of us will go hiking on one of the many mountains and trails or we will relax on the beach which is just a 15 minute Uber ride away from our house. Below is a photo of the peak of Lion’s Head mountain which took about 1-2 hours to we climb all the way to the top.  The breathtaking view of the surrounding city and coast was definitely worth it!


South Africa, Uncategorized

In Cape Town “Education is about Transformation”

Yoimg_6658u can only change the world by first choosing to transform yourself. This is a sentence that I’ve meditated on all day. I have to be willing to transform myself in order to learn and create the change I want to see in the world. Wow. Today in Cape Town, I learned a lot about the University of Cape Town (UCT), Education and the Alma Mater. We started the day off by having check in and breakfast, going over yesterday’s learning objectives. I had no idea what was in store for today’s journey but needless to say, I was very excited. Every moment here has felt like a dream come true. I’m loving everything about Cape Town and learning so much so soon. We left the hostel and took on the town by starting at the University of Cape Town. We walked along the campus and discussed the right for education, the fees for education and the fees must fall movement. These topics definitely resonate with me as I continue my education here in the United States. Education to me is a privilege and I’m well aware that not everyone has this opportunity due to financial reasons. For me personally, college is very expensive and I think it should be a lot cheaper! Education takes a lot of work out of the student besides just financial burdens. Yes, they pay for the education but after that they still have to go through transforming themselves in order to actually gain the education. #FeesMustFall was a 2015 student led protest movement that began in response to an increase in school fees at South African Universities. The protest ended with the South African government announcing that the fees would not increase further in 2016. A protest began again in 2016 after there was talk that the fees would increase again in 2017, but each institution was given freedom to decide how much their tuition would actually increase. This movement is something that I can relate to because University is already difficult so I don’t understand why the government would make it more expensive. I personally think this has something to do with spatial, racial and financial segregation. The governments’ effort in trying to make sure only people with a lot of money can be educated. This is similar to United States in a way that if you don’t have enough money to attend school, then you most likely will not. The whole #FeesMustFall movement makes me realize how scandalouse the education system is. After walking for a while, we ended up at the Alma Mater statue on UCT’s campus. While my campus back in Champaign has an Alma Mater as well, I must admit that I never knew what it stood for. Quite embarrassing, but I’m glad to have learned something new. Again, active learning through experience. Due to hearing the context of “Alma Mater” I knew it was a mother figure but after a little research I found that its literal meaning in Latin is “Nurturing Mother.” In the photo above, the Alma Mater is holding books/scribes and there is a chameleon crawling up the side. As a group we discussed how symbolic this statue is regarding education and transformation.img_9084I learned that you can educate yourself and change the world by choosing to transform yourself. Learning new things can change you and transform you as a person but you have to be willing to allow that change to happen. This is something that I never really thought about. The concept that education is about transformation really stuck with me and made me think more. I feel like personally, I had never really allowed a transformation to take place and therefore I was hindering my process of actually learning. We also discussed how you can only become a better person by engaging with others. In my personal life, I find that I can sometimes refrain from engaging with others out of fear, lack of acceptance or just shyness. Today I have really been challenged to think more about how interacting with others and getting out of my comfort zone can positively impact my life and stir up transformation.