Shianne Randolph Reflects on her Study Abroad to South Africa
There were so many exciting parts of my study abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa; but what I want to discuss most are the connections I made while there. First, I will discuss a connection that I made during the service-learning aspect of the course where myself and the other students on the trip volunteered with the Students’ Health and Welfare Centers Organization (SHAWCO). SHAWCO is a student-run NGO based at the University of Cape Town that seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals in developing communities within the Cape Metropolitan area.
We volunteered in a township known as Khayelitsha. On the first day of service learning, I felt discouraged about my ability to build personal, meaningful relationships with the kids in the township. As time passed though, the interactions between the learners and me became more fluid. It felt more natural and genuine. I learned alot about the learners, particularly about their music choice and favorite artists!
There is one student in particular who I built a particularly strong relationship with. His name is Mihle and he is 16 years old. I think our relationship became so strong because he reminded me of my biological younger brother from home. Mihle and the other learners I built close relationships with also taught me a few words in their language, which is Xhosa. My favorite out of all the words I learned being “ndiyakuthanda,” which translates to “I love you,” in English. All of the students who were in my group for the service-learning portion of the course said “ndiyakuthanda” to me on our last day. They also taught me how to respond as if to say, “I love you too,” which is “Nam.”