My Experience at SMC Study Abroad: South Africa

Molly Downing 

When I signed up to go on this trip to South Africa, I had realized that I never learned anything about African history growing up beyond what was portrayed in the Lion King. During this trip, I learned so much about the history of the native people, the Apartheid, and so much more. It meant so much to be able to go on this trip because I would have never seen and felt so much love from another culture. We visited kids at orphanages who wanted nothing from us, but our time and attention. We taught at a school in Kruger Park where the students were so appreciative of us and wanted to prove their skills to us. Although we taught the children at primary schools and orphanages English and Math, they taught us so much about ourselves, and each other. This trip to South Africa gave me a new perspective on education and togetherness. I will no longer take my education or the relationships in my life for granted.

One of the points I made in my application essay to this trip was to experience the good and bad of culture shock with the entire group – in so, making new friends. I laughed, cried, got really mad, and fell in love the people we came with. I learned that rooming with 6 girls, in a 3 bedroom apartment with one restroom will bond you quickly. I know that the girls who I have close bonds with will be life long friends. We experienced the happiness and the sadness of culture shock together. I cried at the Apartheid museum with the people on the trip whom I had just met. I fell in love with one of the orphans who taught me how much you can care about another person. When I look back on this trip, it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I learned so much and felt helpful to the global community. I hope to go back to South Africa again, and thank the Verge Family SO much for giving me the scholarship money to go on such a beautiful and meaningful experience. I truly think that every student should take the opportunity to study abroad.

Molly Downing