By: Cherie Chung, Georgetown, University, ThinkImpact South Africa Scholar
When you travel to a foreign country, you expect to be uncomfortable, to be thrown out of your comfort zone into situations you could not possibly imagine. This is much of what I expected when preparing to come here – being unable to communicate with my host family, adapting to new living conditions, and feeling lost without many friends or connections here. Partially because people generally adapt fairly easily to new situations, partially because South Africa is quite developed, and partially because the people here are easy to love, the opposite of my expectations occurred and I became extremely comfortable with life here within a matter of two weeks, and I even developed some plans and expectations of the next two weeks – the Inspire phase. We had spent the past two weeks meeting community members, hearing about their lives, their ideas, and their love for Lutzville Wes, and I had also become friends with a few of them, such as my neighbors in White City (the part of Lutzville Wes that we live in, so named for the color of the houses). I had also spent the past two weeks getting to know Cailin, my roommate, a rising senior from USD that loves the environment and is a member of the crew team. I was of the impression that I would be working with her on the eventual project, creating a design team made up of the people that we had met in the past two weeks.
Many of the scholars in my pod desired to branch out and pair up with someone that was not their roommate, and so that is what happened. I ended up being paired with Ashley, a fellow Georgetown student and economics major that shares my love of reading, although my interests veer towards nonfiction and psychology books and hers are towards classics and Nietzsche, but this and our other differences has led us into numerous entertaining discussions that have served as a comforting reminder of home and distraction from work. My design team ended up being people that I mostly had not talked to during my first two weeks here, but possibly some of the funniest people I have ever met in my life, from Clinton, our CO that lightens the mood at every meeting and should really be a comedian, to Quentin, my 15 year old neighbor that aspires to be a soccer player and loves pulling pranks and teasing people in the meantime. My initial idea that I would be leading meetings and driving the process has washed away as I have been faced with the reality that my design team is eager to hold the reins, unafraid to shoot down or push up any ideas. Now I just come to meetings with an openness to see what happens.
Life seldom goes according to our expectations, and this was proof. I look forward to seeing the ways in which Lutzville Wes upends my expectations in the next 2 and a half weeks. It has already done that in a way – I was anxious about coming here and I thought I would not like it. Now I am anxious about leaving, busy scheming up ways to come again. I will not say goodbye in a few weeks – rather, I think I will say, see you later!
The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author of this article do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University or any employee thereof.