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Volunteering Finale – Positive Influence

As tears run down my face on the drive away from Ikhayalethemba, I began to wonder about my life and my purpose here in South Africa. When I first signed up for this opportunity, I was determined to expand my horizon and my perspective; little did I know that my entire life’s been changed forever.

There’s this one kid whom I grew extremely close to in the past 2 weeks. We will call him Nick. He was not behaving well this morning when we were doing “circle time” where we sit around in a circle and sing songs together, so I refused to read books to him. Oh, the things I’d give up for another chance to read Franklin stories or have him sit in my lap and sing Tiny Tim the Turtle.

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How do I just move on to the rest of my life without seeing these angels who’ve been my entire life for these past two weeks? How do I persuade myself to not drop everything I have and just stay here with these kids forever because I’ve grown to love them so much? How do I continue to go on with my days without hearing their innocent laughters throughout Ikhayalethemba?

I know I shouldn’t focus on the things that I will lose, but accepting the fact that I literally will not be able to see these kids’ angelic smiles again is a knife to my heart.

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I looked back as they waved goodbye. Because we are not allowed to take pictures of the children, I want to try as hard as I can to remember their faces forever.

However, I can’t begin to hope for the same for them. At the end of the day, it’s not my face or my name that I want them to remember. It’s the colors that we’ve learned, the alphabets and the numbers, and how to write their names that will really advance them with their lives. I just hope that I have made a positive influence on their lives; that would be the most rewarding thing in the world.

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xoxo,

#PrincessDiaries

ps. I had butterfly face paint on while I was crying on the ride home. I looked so ridiculous. 

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Volunteering Pt. 3 – Weekend in Cape Town

January 5th, 2013

Cape Town, South Africa

Oh My God. Just got home from such an amazing weekend in Cape Town. I’m going to try to break down this huge journal into three parts: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:

January 3rd

The ride to Cape Town was only about 45 minutes long, but I still managed to fall asleep, haha! We stayed at a hostel called Ashanti, which is basically a hipster/youngnians’ dream hotel. It has high ceilings, fun décor, and an amazing bar. Even though my friends and I did not get to stay in the same room (because it is THAT popular!), I still enjoyed my stay very, very much.

We walked down by the Companies Garden to downtown Cape Town, and stopped by a really nice bar called Twenky’s Bar. Our afternoon plans of exploring Cape Town were stopped by liquor drinks, food, and free wi-fi.

Downtown Cape Town isn’t that big, but there are tons of places to explore and to walk. Time flew by when we were there, so we headed back to the hostel to freshen up for fancy dinner plans.

Mama Africa was super amazingly delicious!

I tried the lamb curry, which was actually the very first thing I saw on the menu, and I definitely would get it again and again if I ever go back! Live music, great décor, and friendly staff, Mama Africa was an amazing restaurant located right on Long Street. With a big, big dinner and a few liquor drinks after having played with the kids in the morning, Bry went back to the hostel to chill out at the bar before passing out.

January 4th

We walked around downtown Cape Town some more before meeting up with other volunteers who are staying at another hostel. We went to the Greenmarket where there’s a lot of bracelets and other souvenirs to choose from. As first time tourists here, we did not know how to bargain with the people on the price. I bought a bracelet that was 40 Rand, but later I saw another market selling it for 20. 40 Rand is about 4 dollars in the U.S., so I am not super bummed, but I wish I had fought harder haha! I hope he enjoyed the extra 20 Rand…

At noon, the paragliding company called and said that the mist had gone and we’re going to fly!! We took a cab to Signal Hill, and the entire ride there, my heart was pounding like crazy. I hate heights, and I hate losing control of where I am, so I honestly don’t even know why I signed up for paragliding. When the first out of four volunteers went up, my heart was pounding even faster (I’m surprised I didn’t get a heart attack!!)!! However, once we went up into the air, I felt like nothing else mattered. The world was so small compared to the ocean and the mountains, and I felt so free for once. However, the wind was so strong that I could not keep my eyes open. I couldn’t stop crying either, so in all of the pictures that were taken while we were up there, I looked like a mess – that’s why they will only be in my iPhoto and not shared anywhere else.

In the afternoon, we took a cab to Waterfront, a recently developed area (from what I saw) close to city center. The craft market and the food market were absolutely amazing! I can’t believe I thought I would survive with only $100 here in Cape Town for 2 weeks. I bought another bracelet there and some souvenir for friends and family. South African art and craft absolutely amaze me – while I think what I saw was really stereotypical and touristy, it was definitely one of the best parts of my weekend. The art is just breathe-taking as the color use is so different yet so fascinating.

January 5th

Sunday fun-day, we went on a tour with Bazbus, and we toured Seal Island, Cape Point, and Cape of Good Hope with them (along with a 5K bike ride but we will not talk about how that one time Bryan carried his bike uphill and fell on his a*s right when he was finishing up).

If you want to look at the amazingly beautiful pictures, which we both know that you do, go check out my Instagram: @bchou1234!!!

Okay free wi-fi is up now. Bye.

xoxo

(OMG Qatar in 5 days)

#PrincessDiaries 

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Volunteering Pt. 2 – I’m in love with South Africa

December 31st, 2013

Ikhayalethemba

 

Second day at the orphanage is also the very last day of 2013!!

 

Every morning, we always start with Circle Time, where we bring all the kids into a classroom and sing for about an hour. Some children could barely speak English but could sing all the songs perfectly. All of the songs involve some sort of dancing, and the faces on these kids when they did all the moves correctly were just pure joy and pride.

 

The “teachas” decided that we would go with the “flying” theme this week, so we made paper kites with the children today. I have about three kids in my class, and they are always so energetic. “Teacha! Teacha! Me! Me!” They couldn’t sit down and draw on their papers because they were so excited about absolutely everything, so I took the Disney princess stickers out, and oh my God did they love them. They all went crazy for the princesses! We decorated their papers with some more coloring and some stickers (even though they mostly put the stickers on their faces… it was soooo cute!), and I started making the kites for them. They were so confused at first then the kites were just laying on the ground, but when the breeze came and the kites went up, their faced turned into bright happiness as if nothing else in the world mattered to them at the moment. They stared at the kites as they kept on going up, and all of a sudden they started screaming “TEACHA! TEACHA! LOOK AT ME!” as they ran down the field showing off their kites to all of the other volunteers.

 

They appreciated such a simple and small thing in life to an extent that I could have never imagined, so why m I here craving for free wifi right now?

 

Traveling on a backpack and a small suitcase, I started to realize that my perspective has been changed… I wonder what life would have been like if I had been brought up at this orphanage, and one of the children was brought up by my parents? I haven’t done anything else but simply staying alive for the past 22 years to deserve an iPad Air for my birthday, so why am I living in such a different world than these kids? Why do I get to eat a hamburger whenever I want to yet these kids are surviving off of people’s donations?

 

I will never be able to answer these questions.

 

*breaths deeply*

#PrincessDiaries

 

Ps. went absolutely #WhiteGirlWasted for New Year’s Eve & kissed a 70-year-old lady at the bar last night. Wha?

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Volunteering Pt. I

December 28th, 2013

Gordon Bay, South Africa

 

Oh. My. God. I still cannot believe I’m actually here in South Africa.

 

I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have had because of my parents. Not being able to spend Christmas and New Year’s with them is weird and makes me miss them very much.

 

The past few days have been crazy. First of all, I found out on the 23rd that my team’s Qatar 2022 Women’s Soccer Challenge submission was chosen as one of the top 3 finalists, and we will be flying to Qatar on January 11th. By that time, I was already in New York City, enjoying my time and not expecting to go to Qatar at all. I did not have my laptop with me, or any of my presentable clothes for such a setting. Because of that, I had to bus it back up to Syracuse at 6am the very next morning to re-pack for my trip since I was going to be volunteering in South Africa until January 11th. Took the bus back to New York City on the 26th, spent a few hours with amazing friends in the city and went straight to JFK Airport for my 7pm flight. My flight had a 13-hour layover in London, so I was able to walk around the city and re-embrace my memories for a few hours before another 11-hour flight to Cape Town, which I basically coma’ed through. I was only awake for the food…until I finished it. The girl sitting next to me said to me: “I couldn’t believe you slept the entire way here to Cape Town. I was so jealous of you!”

 

The customs were not as strict as I had anticipated considering how difficult it was for me to obtain a volunteer visa. The drive from the airport to Gordon’s Bay, where I’ll be staying with the rest of the volunteers, was pretty easy. The driver, a local South African, patiently answered all of my questions as I acted like a 3-year-old boy who had just seen the world for the first time. What really stood out to me was the township (a common phrase used here in South Africa; usually refers to the underdeveloped areas that house the colored and the black communities**) on both sides of the road on the drive out of the airport. The driver explained to me that in each of the small houses (I really wouldn’t even call them ‘houses’ since they are about the size of an average living room), it has, on average, a family of five living in it. While one side lives the black community, the other lives the Muslims. I really could not believe my eyes. They literally live right off the street, and you can see their public bathrooms. I wondered how they could live in such condition, but then I thought if I had grown up in that township my whole life, I really would not know to compare it to. How will I ever be able to go from what I know, how I am living to no running water or electricity? Even such details make me feel so blessed yet spoiled… my volunteer work hasn’t even started yet and I am already changed…

 

 

**Just to clarify, words like “black,” “colored,” and “white” are used very commonly and freely here in South Africa; I am using these adjectives to give an authentic feel of South Africa through my blog**

 

 

 

 

December 29th, 2013

Gordon’s Bay, South Africa

 

Today is yet another beautiful day here in Gordon’s Bay. I sweated from 7am to 7pm, and I feel like I am getting so fit! Today was an orientation day for the newbies – there are three of us: one girl from the U.K., one girl from Kansas, and moi. In the orientation, we talked about what the project (the orphanage) is like and what the possible weekend trips are. They are beyond my imagination – wine tour, shark cage diving, safari, sky diving, 3-day trip in Cape Town, etc. – am I on vacation or am I volunteering?! Just two days ago, I was terrified of getting on that plane in JFK because I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but whatever I was expecting, this is definitely not it.

 

I started to think that being here for 2 weeks is definitely not enough for me to fully understand everything… it just means I’ll have to come back!! 😀

 

We went on an orientation walk today, and we walked by Gordon’s Bay beach, which was super packed because of the good weather! I also tried a Savanna Dry because Maddie Kelly insisted that I try out this cider of heaven (hey girl hey!). At first I thought it was too sweet for my taste, but when the buzz started to kick in, I started to enjoy it (“it” in this sentence can be either Savanna Dry or the buzz). I looked around and saw all these tourists enjoying their family vacations here, and it made me ache inside thinking about the children at the orphanage and all the other children out there who are dying for some care and love.

 

Working with the children starts tomorrow. I have heard so many exciting and funny stories from the current volunteers already that I absolutely cannot wait till tomorrow when I actually get to meet them!

 

Ps. I’ve been having the weirdest short dreams since I got here. I hope this continues forever.

 

Xoxo,

#PrincessDiaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 30th, 2013

Ikhayalethemba (the orphanage), South Africa

 

Today was my first day at the orphanage!

Before we left our apartment, we had a quick Xhosa lesson where I remember nothing now. Thank God I took notes!

“ndiyakuthanda” means “I love you”

We went on a quick tour around the townships of Zola, where the orphanage is, before actually going into work this morning. We are prohibited from taking pictures because of South Africa’s Child Protection Act, so that is a bummer, but I will be able to get pictures from the organization at the end of my trip in 2 weeks, so that’s when I’ll show my cliché “I’m a volunteer!!!” pictures later.

These kid, oh my god, they are the sweetest little children I have ever met. They embrace new volunteers with open arms, and they are genuinely curious in your stories. When I first walked into the orphanage with the new volunteers, some of the kids ran up to the gate and greeted us. One of them pointed at me and shouted “TEACHAH CHINA!” and that was my nickname for a few hours haha! Now they know me as “TEACHAH FLYYAN”… almost there!

I have never been this tired my whole life; playing with these kids is the most tiring yet the most rewarding experience I have had so far!!

 

I am so excited for the remaining time that I have here, both exploring Cape Town and exploring myself with these kids. I came here to do some good for the orphans, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are going to change my entire life from here…

 

Xx,

#PrincessDiaries