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Learning Beyond the Classroom in Cape Town, South Africa

Posted on June 29, 2018

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.

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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.

Author: Shakera Vaughan

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