Learning Beyond the Classroom in Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa has taught me things both inside and outside of the classroom. This started as soon as I touched down in the Cape Town International Airport and will last me for a lifetime. The lessons were sometimes planned, but other times they were completely unintentional. At first, I didn’t know how to perceive these new lessons that life was offering, but over time I found the beauty and solace in learning; not just learning about the political state of South Africa, but also learning about who I really am as a person operating in society.
Inside the classrooms of the University of the Western Cape, I learned that I am a student who enjoys respectful debates. The professors here welcomed challenges to the text we are reading and opened the classroom up for diverse discussion. I believe this will help me truly examine what authors are trying to say because I not only process their argument, but also form my own opinion along the way. This is also something that Georgetown professors encourage, but up until now I had always been scared to share how I truly felt out of fear that my opinion was misinformed. The academics in Cape Town instilled me with newfound confidence within the classroom that I cannot wait to unleash upon my return to the hilltop (Georgetown's Campus).
I haven’t had much professional experience since I’ve been in Cape Town, but I was able to learn that I am good at telling my story through the various interviews I’ve done since being here; my first major one being for the Truman Scholarship. I was able to weave my study abroad experience in with my own personal narrative. Next, I interviewed for a summer internship where I had to combine what I learned inside the classroom in Cape Town with my overall career projective and goals. Finally, I had to interview for a mentoring program for minorities who wanted to study abroad but came from disadvantaged backgrounds. All these interviews came naturally to me because I was telling my story, my experiences, and my truth.
Personally speaking, study abroad has allowed me to really get in tune with myself. I was able to learn more about myself because I finally had the time to sit down and reflect on who I am; about how I sometimes can get a really bad attitude if things don’t go the way I initially planned, or that I stress myself out because I don’t like things hanging over my head. I learned that I am a limited communicator who has a hard time truly expressing how I feel. Lastly, I learned how to strengthen my relationship with God, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. All of these lessons have prepared me to be a better student, colleague, and overall person as my journey here is slowly coming to an end.
Authored by: Shakera Vaughan