Reaching Out 2 The World


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The Sunshine Blogger Award

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The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers. It is given to bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.

Dan Sellers of Adventure Born  nominated O’Sullivans Travels for a Sunshine Blogger Award! Thanks for that Dan. The aim for my blog was to create a window into the world I was living while volunteering and traveling through mostly Southern Africa. What started as a way for my Grandma to keep tabs on me developed into a lot more. I’ve met some pretty neat people through writing and it’s always nice being able to look back and relive a memory.

For excepting this award, there are some rules I must now follow in return:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

Well here are the eleven questions Dan gave me along with my answers! I’ll also be renominating his blogger friends. I trust they are great! I’ve had the pleasure to meeting Miss Noemie-Capucine and she is just awesome!

  1. If you could visit one country right now, where would it be?
    • It’s been a few years but I’d love to get back to South Africa. Many friends, students. and family to reunite with.
  2. What’s your favorite animal?
    • Cheetah or Monkey… or Eagle? I love animals
  3. Batman or Superman?
    • I’m gonna go with Batman, he seems more inventive.
  4. Besides family and friends, what do you miss from home the most when you’re traveling?
    • The convenience of my car.
  5. How old were you when you took your first flight?
    • Pretty young. 4-5?
  6. Favorite school subject?
    • math or social studies
  7. If you won one million dollars, what would be your very first purchase?
    • I think about these things a lot and I’m really quite practical about it.. First thing I would do is pay off all debts.. after that maybe a plane ticket? or maybe a house!
  8. Where are you exactly right now as you’re reading this question?
    • In my apartment, on my couch
  9. What was the last movie you watched?
    • Batman vs Superman… Superman pretty much just got his ass kicked the whole time.
  10. If you had the opportunity to hike Mount Everest, all expenses paid, would you?
    • Of course I would have to… but have you seen the movie? Kinda terrifying.
  11. What would you say to those that are afraid to travel somewhere new for the first time?
    • Go with an open mind. You regret the things you don’t do in life a lot more than the things you do…do.

Here are the 11 other bloggers that I nominate:

Here are my 11 questions:

  1. Three countries to live 1 year on each… which countries would you choose (not counting where you currently reside)?
  2. Would you ever compete on the the TV shows, “Naked and Afraid”, or “Alone”?
  3. Would you rather have the ability to Fly or be Invisible?
  4. What’s a hidden skill you have?
  5. What’s a recent moment you are proud of?
  6. How many years before we legitimately have an NBA star as dominate as Lebron James?
  7. What is your favorite sport of the Summer Olympics to watch?
  8. If you could give advice to your 13 year old self (one sentence), what would it be?
  9. What’s an item on your bucket list that you have not yet achieved?
  10. Netflix or HBO?
  11. What National Park in the USA would you visit and hike if everything was planned out perfectly for you?

Thanks again for the nomination Dan!

Next week I’ll be joining Dan on a two week road rally. Your guess is as good as mine but it is sure to be a grand time. Following along via http://adventureborn.net

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Teaching, Coaching, and Some Incredible Art

It’s been about a year since I last updated this blog and while I plan on filling you in on a bit of what I’ve been up to, I’m mostly just looking to highlight a very cool gift I just received.

Jumping back a bit… Upon returning from South Africa in November of 2013 I jumped right into the start of my second season coaching the diving team at Methacton High School, my alma mater. It’s been really great working at the school and the team I coach has been awesome. This past season everyone on the dive team qualified for districts! <- That’s a really good thing!

In February of 2014 I began working at the Belmont Charter School in West Philadelphia. My position there is as a full time building substitute but I’m primarily working with the middle school grades. The team of colleagues I work with are phenomenal, and help make each day a bit better. We’ve been really looking forward to the warmer weather to get back outside to our weekly frisbee golf sessions. So far my teaching career has traversed from rural Pennsylvania, to a township in South Africa and now that I’ve found myself back in my home state working at an inner city school I feel like I’ve seen it all.

Between working at the school in the city and coaching at the school in the suburbs I’ve made sure to find ways to tie in my abroad experiences. Our students in the city are working towards an outward bound trip, this May. The trip will take 40 of our eighth graders on a 5 day adventure either hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail or canoeing down parts of the Delaware River. Although the locations are 8,000 miles apart the idea behind this year’s trip is quite similar to our ReachingOut2TheWorld escapade. The 8th Grade Boys of the BCSSince I’ve been home I’ve shared my stories and experiences with hundreds of students from several schools in the area. Being able to walk my Belmont students through the trips I took in South Africa seems the best way to ease any fear or anxiety they face towards their trip this spring. For most of them it will be the first time being away from home, hiking, camping, and being without their phones and electronics. I think some of the teachers are even a bit nervous. Not me though, I live for that sort of thing, not just being out and about, but sharing the experience with first-timers. There’s not a doubt in my mind that everyone will have a wonderful time!!

Jumping back to diving, because this update does go full circle, image1 (2)I’ve also found some ways to tie in my expeditions. Kevin Roy, a Junior at Methacton, has been diving since his elementary school years. I know this because I was on Methacton’s diving team (8 years ago) when Kevin and his brother first got started. I always knew the Roys were talented athletes but it was just this most recent season that I learned how talented Kevin was with his art.

When Kevin first started showing me some of his art I was impressed right away. His style of choice is pen and ink illustrations as well as water colors and when I saw his talent I knew I needed one of his pieces. His in school assignment was to create a piece that showed an emotion. Kevin and I sat down for a while paging through photos I took and we ended up landing on the one of Ski receiving a hug from a friendly elephant. The quick back story behind that was that out of the 8 boys we took on the ReachingOut2TheWorld trip Ski was the toughest. He was always the hardest to get to crack a smile no matter how much fun he was having. At 14 years old smiling isn’t always the cool look kids are going for. So when it came time for Ski to meet this giant elephant, and then receive a hug from it, there was simply no way he could hold back a grin. It’s one of my favorite photos and certainly holds with it emotion. Now it was just a matter to see what Kevin could do!

image2Kevin’s ability to portray a photo with a pen to paper is something else. I asked him to snap some photos of his process along the way and was rewarded each time with a sneak peak into awesomeness. image3

This piece in particular took Kevin just over 20 hours to complete and he used BIC Pens for the entire portrait. How amazing is that? He did this with a PEN!

It was important for me to meet up with Kevin before he began working on this piece because I wanted him to know a bit about what was going on in the photos before he started. I’ve always seen art as a process, a journey from the beginning to the end. Often when I look at art I try to imagine image4how long it may have taken them to create such a piece. Sometimes I wonder where they started or what they were thinking image5while they worked. Being able to hear from Kevin and receive updates along the way was really cool.

Kevin still has another year of High School before he takes his talents to college, but in the mean time he’s still looking to create more art!

If you’re interested in having one of your own photos done up by an up and coming professional be sure to reach out to him at: KevinRoyArt@gmail.com

In the meantime I’ll be looking to help Kevin set up his own site to show off some of his other work and provide another way for folks to get in touch with him if they have something they’d like done. I can assure you that Kevin is an awesome young man and you will be truly impressed and delighted with what he can do for you! image6Thanks a lot Kevin!!!


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The Real Story: by Mieke Scherpenzeel

During the 2 months Hanneke and I knew Chris, we would keep up with his IMG_4927daily adventures through his blogs. Of course we were there most of the time so we knew what happened, but it was nice to read what he had to say about it. I always thought that he told the stories very well and Hanneke and I both were kinda sad that it had to come to an end after he left! So the first question we had to ask him on Skype was: How many blogs are still coming? It was only about 2 more days, so only 2 more blogs… We insisted that he wrote a reflective one as well. Then he came up with the greatest offer; Why wouldn’t we write one from our view? That was too hard to put down, I don’t know if it was a smart decision O’Sullivan, but we would love to do it!

IMG_4322I remember that, when we just met Chris, and I heard his story about taking the kids on a trip, I was very impressed. How great is it that somebody puts all this effort in raising money to give those kids a treat and bring them on a trip! Especially the way he thanked the donors was something I thought was creative and nice. I didn’t know the kids at all yet or what to expect, but when time went by we got to learn the kids and it was not hard to tell that they were crazy about Chris.

We got to see that they really enjoyed coming over, no matter what they wouldIMG_3563 be doing, mainly just to hang out with their Chris, and of course Dan. How nice for those kids to have a safe place to hang out and just be together. We could tell that they really looked forward to the trip and Chris and Dan really put a lot of effort in to make it all work out.

IMG_7211After the trip we could tell that the kids just had the best time, we could tell by the pictures but especially by their excitement and stories. Those kids got to do stuff and got to see things they’ve never done nor seen. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. But would they still come over after the trip? Or did they get what they wanted and that was enough… That was the dumbest question we could be wondering. Those kids are very thankful and not just taking advantage of anybody. They seemed to come over more than ever and with more other friends then ever! They were really sad when Chris and Dan left on their trip to Dubai and Morocco but they at least knew they were coming back!

Luckily for us, the kids still came over whenever the guys were gone. DSC_0003This was our opportunity to do something nice back to them. That’s when we came up with decorating their whole room with nice sticky notes and drawings. This is when we could tell how much the kids appreciated those guys. Of course they kept on asking when they were coming back. We were all counting the days together!

IMG_1258I think it was in the last week that Chris was here how much I realized how strong this relationship was. Most of those kids don’t have an easy situation at home and are missing a dad in their life. We know how important it is for teenage boys to have a male role model and you see how much they miss it. Chris and Dan could just give them a little bit of this need. Chris, with his teacher skills, was pretty much a father to them. He loves those kids to death and we are sure it’s the other way around too.

That’s why it was heartbreaking to even think about him leaving. IMG_1310Hanneke and I talked about how much we would give to switch places and leave so the guys could stay, we enjoy the kids a lot and started bonding with them but they need men in their lives… men that care for them like Chris does. When it was time to say goodbye to Chris our heart really broke, his bond with them was just really special and strong.

IMG_6700We are really thankful towards Chris and Dan to get us involved with the kids. How could we not get involved? Those kids are awesome, so sweet and sooo much fun to be around! They stole our heart just like they did with Chris and Dan. I don’t know how we’re gonna manage it without the guys but we are sure we gonna continue working with those kids, until we have to leave in July. We would be more than happy to take them more places and of course provide the contact with the US!

Next to the work with the kids we IMG_3517got to know Chris pretty well. He was the one that helped us out the first days to get around and get to know South-Africa a little. It was a lot of fun having him here. We already miss his many stories, the game nights, beating him at Catan and doing fun stuff like surfing, eating out, Cubana’s, playing Frisbee or just hanging out together. And of course sharing the memories of Mzoli’s!

It is always nice to meet great people during traveling. I’m sure we will come to America one day!

 


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A Heart Wrenching Goodbye

Goodbyes are hard. I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of special people in my life andIMG_7039 I can tell you that it never really gets any easier. Sometimes it’s not so bad to say goodbye to a friend you’ve made because you’ll know you’ll be able to keep in touch. These days Facebook and 4g make it pretty easy for us all to do that. The problem lies in the fact that the majority of the people I’d be saying goodbye to don’t have these conveniences and I can’t confidently say when the next time I’ll see them.

IMG_1017My day started with a trip into Stellenbosch. The last thing I’d need on this day was any sort of reminder that it was my final day. I was very well aware of that fact and was looking to just make the trip alone. When I’m alone I don’t have to communicate with anyone how I’m feeling, I can just go about my day, and on my last day… that’s what I needed. There were only a couple things I wanted to take care of while I was in town so I knew the trip would be quick. The first place I went was the photo shop where I could print out a few more pictures before leaving. I wanted to give these pictures to the children that didn’t receive a photo book the day before. I only want the best for these kids and always wish I could do more. I think we often take pictures for granted these days. Everything is digital and online and we often forget that it’s not like that everywhere else in the world. Most of these families don’t have any pictures of their IMG_7216kids let alone an online data base that holds all their dearest memories. I know that these printed photos will be taken care of and never forgotten. While they were printing I went through town to find some flowers for Mama Zulu. It’s just a small token of my appreciation and gratitude for opening up her home to me. There were plenty of options of flower bouquets, and I was feeling indecisive over which one I thought she’d like. I decided to just pick the one out that I liked the best figuring that if I liked it than I’m sure she would to. The bouquet was filled with green and white flowers with splashes of yellow. Kind of reminded me of home because the green and white were my old school colors.

Once I had everything I made my way back to the mini buses and ultimately back to Kayamandi. Mama Zulu was around back hanging laundry when I presented her with the flowers. She’s always called me one of her sons, but this time it felt different. Not only would I have to say goodbye to all those kids today but I was also going to have to say goodbye to the Zulus. I wasn’t leaving for another couple hours but I knew things were only going to get harder.

IMG_6701I spent the rest of the morning packing up my bags, taking the pictures and notes off the walls, and getting everything as close to ready as I could. As I was doing this Eric came in to let me know that he’d be leaving for the day and probably wouldn’t get the chance to see me off later on in the day. DSC_4278Eric was the first volunteer I met on this trip and the first person I’d have to say goodbye to. From day 1 we’ve been close friends and have loads of great memories together. I’m very confident that I’ll see him again so our goodbye was much more of a see you later. It’s been great Eric and I look forward to hearing from you. I’m so proud of all you are doing for Kayamandi and really appreciate the work you’ve put in with the kids. I’ll see ya around buddy!

Back in the kitchen I met up with Mieke and Hanneke who were just about ready for some lunch. They had a frozen pizza heating up in the oven that they were looking to share and I pulled out the leftovers from the previous night’s fajitas. I genuinely love leftovers so this was already starting to look like a solid lunch. In the middle of all this we were joined by Gesa, Clara, and Theresa who were all home from work to see me just in case they didn’t have the chance to say goodbye before I’d be leaving. While we hung out Clara made up some of her world famous flapjacks. These were the perfect dessert to accompany my pizza and fajitas. Thanks so much for all the food ladies, I absolutely loved it!

IMG_1242Riri and Mawande were the first to come over. I think their school let them out before the other school because of the exams starting on Friday. The first thing we took care of was letting Mawande shave IMG_1245the rest of my beard off. Looking a bit more normal we were soon joined by the rest of the gang. I still had a few hours before my ride to the airport would be coming and I didn’t care what we did as long as I got to spend it with these guys. When I asked them what they’d like to do the response was unanimous. They wanted to look through pictures from my time with them. I opened my computer and pulled up the IMG_7219file that read, First Week in Kayamandi, and we began going through. I can tell you right now that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of going through these pictures. Each picture tells a story and brings back the greatest of memories. If anyone reading this would ever be so interested in looking through the pictures and videos I’ve taken of my travels than I’d be more than happy to set something up!

After a couple hours of going through pictures, videos, and memories it was just about that time. With Riri’s help I brought my bags up to the front of the house and was followed by an entourage of my closestIMG_1258 friends and family. I’d been dreading saying goodbye for so long that I wasn’t even sure how to begin. Mieke suggested that I should start saying my goodbyes and taking pictures with everyone sooner rather than later so as not to be rushed once Isaac arrived to take me to the airport. Even with the head start I still wasn’t ready to go. As I was taking pictures with everyone things were going well. It wasn’t until Isaac pulled up that it hit me. I was going to have to leave, and before that, I was going to have to say goodbye. This time it was Clara that made the first move. She came right up to me and gave me a big hug and told me everything was going to be alright and that she’d come visit. It was at this point the tears began. I think it was the fact that so much had been leading up to this point, and ultimately at the end of this procession was my transport to take me away. The next volunteer I said goodbye to was Theresa, followed by Gesa. It was such a pleasure meeting you all and I can’t wait to see you again. The work you are doing in Kayamandi is truly amazing.IMG_1306

Honestly, at this point things began to feel surreal. If I close my eyes I can still see IMG_1307myself walking towards the kids. Their heads are hanging low when I approach them. I get down on their level so that I can see eye to eye with them and try to tell them how much they mean to me but the words are struggling to come out. One by one I hugged each of them and realized that words were no longer necessary, and I knew IMG_1310they understood what I wanted to say. Mawande was the last one I said goodbye to in this particular group of kids. I lifted him up and gave him the biggest hug I could muster. I remember thinking to myself that I should just take him with me. I really didn’t want to let him go but knew that I still had more goodbyes ahead of me and Isaac was waiting. Turning my back to this group I moved on to Riri. He was standing by himself just up the road. The closer I got to him the more it became apparent that words were not going to work. I think we both realized this at the same time because we just went right in for the hug.IMG_1284

I love these kids so much and consider them family. Having to say goodbye was truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ll miss them all like crazy and will be constantly checking in with the other volunteers to hear how they are doing.

IMG_1303After a tearful goodbye to Mama Zulu, Papa Zulu, andIMG_1272 Lelethu I packed my bags in the trunk and got into the car. Hanneke, Mieke, and Dan would be joining me to the airport. It took everything out of me not jump out of the car as we were leaving to say one last goodbye. I really didn’t want to leave them. As we pulled away I glanced the kids walking up the street with their heads still low. I may not be able to afford it, but I’ll be back. It’s not a matter of if; it’s just a matter of when. One day…

The ride to the airport was quick. Or at least it felt quick. Poor Isaac was talking to me the entire time but I haven’t a clue as to what he was saying. My mind was stuck on leaving. Isaac, I really do appreciate the ride and everything you’ve done for me. You’ve been such a great friend and I look forward to keeping in touch!IMG_4833

Once at the airport I checked in and dropped off my bag. Luckily my bag would be flying directly back home and I wouldn’t need to retrieve it over my layover in London. It was also around this time that I had to give me final goodbyes.

IMG_1304Mieke, Hanneke, and Dan had been with me for virtually my entire trip. IMG_1301We’ve come a long way and covered a lot of ground. Throughout our time together we’ve accomplished a lot and created many great memories. I’m certainly going to miss our game nights, our trips into Stellenbosch, and all of our adventures. It makes me so happy to know that such amazing people are living and helping in Kayamandi and that I’ll be able to keep in touch with all that’s going on.

I hope you guys all realize how much I value our friendship and how grateful I am for all that you’ve done. Ya’ll really made a positive impact on my trip and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing you all in the future. Come and visit! IMG_5992I said goodbye and headed towards my gate. I’d have a long couple flights ahead of me before making it back home. Lots of time to think about everyone I was leaving behind. I’ll miss you all to the moon and back! IMG_1298IMG_1252IMG_1297IMG_1287

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The Last Supper

After taking the morning getting a few things done in Stellenbosch, Dan and I made our way back to Kayamandi. Today would be the day I’d be making dinner for everyone and I was anxious to get home and start the preparations. It was a bit cloudy and there was some rain in the morning but we were both hopeful that the rain would hold off for our festivities.

67By 3:00 Riri and Ski were over. This was IMG_7182right on time for them. Not only had they come over to help with the food prep but they were also by to play the roles as my personal barbers. Since August 14th I’ve been letting my beard grow out. There was a slight incident with a crazed Stellenbosch hairdresser who misunderstood my pleas of, “Don’t touch the beard!”, as an opening to trim away, but even with the minor cut back, my beard has grown to it’s warm cozy lengths. As a promise to Mieke and Hanneke I’d be shaving it all off before departing. With that being said, I also promised Ski and Mawande that they could be the ones to shave it off. The new plan was that I’d let Ski shave whatever he’d like, I’d wear the design for a day, and then let Mawande shave the rest off.

IMG_7180As you can imagine, you kind of grow attached to a beard of 3 months. Besides the literal aspect of it, it becomes who you are. When I look into the mirror I’ve grown used to seeing Chris with a beard just as much as you have. Seeing baby-face Chris is like looking at a stranger. Also, as brought to my attention a bit later on in the day, the beard is a great defense mechanism. If we are basing it on sheer facial hair, a bearded man is more intimidating than a beardless man, and when walking these streets I’ve always had my beard. I’m always down with change though, and certainly always open to crazy facial hair so I put my look into the hands of Ski and told him he could do whatever he’d like.

I’m not sure what Ski’s experience is with shaving facial hair, but I’m positive he’s never gave a white person a haircut. And yes, there is a difference. I had Riri arming the camera to capture this magical moment and stationed myself near a mirror so I could watch this debearding. Ski went right to work and was on a mission. I can’t say for sure, but I think he was going for a look similar to a WWE wrestler. There were a lot of laughs throughout the cut, and hair was flying everywhere. With no bib I was left to walking outside and shaking like a dog to get all the excess hair off. When all was said and done I thought Ski did a great job. Some slight symmetrical issues but overall it was a solid styling.

IMG_7184The next thing on our agenda was getting IMG_7183everything sorted out for our major dinner plans. The three of us walked over to Mama Zulus kitchen and began pulling out all the ingredients. I had 24 chicken breasts, 12 assorted peppers, 3 bags of lettuce, jalapenos, a bag of tomatoes, 3 cheese triangles, and a few onions. Our first task was to chop everything thing up. After teaching them the basics of how to clean and cut the peppers they went to work on completing the job. Meanwhile I started dicing up the chicken.

As we were prepping we were joined by IMG_7186Mieke and Hanneke who were shocked to see my new look. Hanneke told me right away that we needed to get Mawande over to finish taking the beard off, but I told her I’d be waiting till the next day. The girls had bought their own stock of food toIMG_7197 create a delicious desert but decided they’d lend a hand to our dinner prep before working on their own undertaking. Mieke began shredding the cheeses, and Hanneke (who sprained her ankle earlier in the day… fetching laundry) helped the boys with the vegetables.

Things were going really well and more people were beginning to show up. Dan had a group of kids next door playing card games while we finished with the food preparations. Riri and Ski did an outstanding job helping and it was a great time spent with everyone in the kitchen. While the rice, chicken, and veggies finished on IMG_7196the stove top the girls began assembling their dessert. I grabbed a few more volunteers from next door and had kids helping out everywhere. Everyone got a turn at whipping up the cream, IMG_7187there were races as to who could cut up the lady fingers the fastest (that was terrifying to watch), and I think everyone helped layer the dessert into the pan. Afterwards it was the kids who helped with the dishes!

With the main meal ready we brought everyone back over and showed them the assembly line we had created. Mieke and I figured our best bet to make the food go the furthest was if we helped assemble everyone’s fajita. It was also almost everyone’s first time eating a fajita so it was probably best that we were there to put their first one together for them. Hanneke was at the end of the line teaching the guys how properly fold their fajita and with that, things were off to great start!

IMG_7199Midway through serving we ran IMG_7193out of plates and had to retrieve the ones from earlier to wash and reuse. This worked out to our benefit though because the kids would wash their own dishes, and we never had to worry about the dishes getting out of control. Around the property were happy people eating a delicious meal and I was thrilled with how things were working out. There was plenty of food and our guests were able to have multiple fajitas. We had so many fillings going into these wraps that it was quite filling to just finish one. When I was satisfied that everyone had eaten I finally allowed myself to eat. The fajitas weren’t half bad!

IMG_7204A few more boys manned the dishes and at one point I looked outside to see three boys sweeping, one boy scooping, and one boy directing a cleaning operation just outside the kitchen. It was great to see the level of manners each of these guys was demonstrating and the absolute perfect last supper I could have come up with.

When things were cleaned up it was time to IMG_7203gather the troops and form a line for dessert. While they were all anxiously waiting for their dessert I saw this as a prime photo opportunity. I had all the kids in one place and asked them to look my way. I reminded them to smile, because teenage boys don’t smile unless you strongly encourage them to. When I looked at the picture and noticed that Ski was one of the few that weren’t smiling. This isn’t the least bit surprising but I told him that if he didn’t smile that he’d regret it. I pulled him from the line and took him to where Mama Zulu was eating her dinner. I sat him down across from her and explained to her the situation. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ski blush so hard. I asked him if this would be a problem anymore and he firmly stated that it wouldn’t be. I told him that was great because his next picture was with our lovely Mama Zulu! He delivered one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen from which more than earned him his spot back in the dessert line. IMG_7202Back outside I told all the kids that we’d be trying that group picture one more time. Ski is the one on the far left making sure his smile was captured on camera. The boys to his right are his best friends who purposely tried not to smile in hopes of receiving the same treatment. That was the crew though, 16 kids; 16 incredibly deserving, amazingly clever, awesome individuals with the personalities to match. This is the family I’m leaving behind, the primary reason for even being in South Africa, and purpose for future visits. This was also just the start of some of the hardest goodbyes I’ll ever face.

IMG_7210With everyone finished eating, and the kitchen all cleaned IMG_7207up Dan and I had something else for our guys. We created photo books for each of the kids from the ReachingOut trip and it was now time to pass them out. We pulled them into the next room and proceeded to hand out the books. The level of excitement was at an all-time high as they passed them about looking through each others books. Even once they rejoined the rest of the kids the evening was spent looking through their pictures.

As I sat there watching them interact, flip through their pictures, and just act themselves it began to hit me that this was my final night with them. Tears began running down my face and I was too choked up to speak. Even writing this right now brings me right back to the way I was feeling. It was just me, Gesa, and the kids in the room and the kids were preoccupied to really notice. Gesa suggested we all play a card game which helped hold me together. There’s no crying in card games. IMG_7213

IMG_7209Slowly, the guys began leaving the house and I’d walk with them up to the gate before saying goodbye. I’d be seeing almost all of them the following day, before I’d have to head to the airport, so I knew this wasn’t the final goodbye.

When all the kids were gone the rest of us cleaned up and made our way into town for a night at the Cubana. This was a great way to relax and hangout with everyone one last time. Corne and Hendri, from Frisbee, came by to wish me a farewell, and we all spent the night having drinks and catching up.

My last full day was great and I’m so pleased with how smooth the meal went. Thanks so much to all the help I got throughout the day.

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A Mysterious Guy Fawkes Day

Like so many other days I woke up Tuesday to a knock at my door. I wasn’t expecting anyone since it was a school day but I heard Papa Zulu calling my name. The next thing I knew Isaac was walking in through the door. I was hoping he’d be coming by today but had no idea that he’d be over first thing in the morning.

We chatted for a while and caught up. Neither Dan nor I had seen Isaac since theIMG_7022 end of September so we spent the morning filling him in on our big trip. The three of us went into Stellenbosch around 10:30 for an early lunch before taking a scenic drive to Gordon’s Bay. Gordan’s Bay is located next to Strand along the coast of False Bay. I think I’ve driven by there before because I remembered the nice hotels along the coast line but I’ve never spent any real amount of time there. Most of the buildings went up just before the IMG_7021world cup in 2010 to help make more for the overflow of people staying in Cape Town. Our trip today was just about hanging out. Isaac treated us to some ice cream and we talked and relaxed by the beach.

Since I’m leaving on Thursday I was anxious to get back to Kayamandi and spend time with the kids. Mawande was one of the first guys to come over and he reminded me of two things. The first of which was that all the students have major exams that will be beginning on Friday and last for nearly two weeks. He brought some of his work books along with him so we could study some and told me that he’d be heading over to the library for some time just after 3. The second thing he reminded me was that today was Guy Fawkes Day. This is an annual commemoration started by the Brits to celebrate the fact thatguy fawkes King James I (not Lebron) had survived the attempt on his life. IMG_7024Guy Fawkes was a member of the Gunpowder Plot and was arrested why guarding explosives that were placed beneath the House of Lords (This info is brought to you by Wikipedia). Anyway, it’s a day where people light fireworks, wear masks, and mischief occurs. South African Townships have adapted this holiday as a day similar to our mischief night… only more intense. The next boy to come over was Luthando who was breathing very heavy. IMG_7026He had just been chased all the way to our house. The front of his shirt had a few dark stains on it and I came to find out that it was oil. Basically in the township the older boys use this day to torment the younger boys… more so than usual. Kids are nervous about leaving their homes and know that if they do they risk getting beat up or having things thrown at them. From what I heard the oil was the least troubling thing they were throwing at each other. The boys did make it over, but very sporadically (I think they had to wade through war to make it over). Once at our place they showed no interest in leaving and we could hardly blame them.

Riri showed up sometime in the middle of this completely unscathed. He strolled inIMG_7025 cool as a cucumber. I’m really not too surprised because anyone that knows Riri likes Riri and anyone that doesn’t know him wants to get to know him. He’s only 13 which doesn’t make him the oldest or the youngest of the group but he is probably the most respected amongst the bunch. I was thrilled to see him because I needed him to put the final touches on a personal letter him and I have been working on. He’s worked so hard on this letter and I’m thrilled to pass it on to the recipient once I get home.

I reminded all the guys that I’d be making dinner for everyone the following night and asked Riri to come by early. I found out a while ago that Riri is pretty good at cooking and requested his help on the preparations. I also promised Ski and Mawande that they could help shave my beard off and figured Wednesday would be the perfect day.

Our evening was pretty quiet because the Dutch girls had gone into Cape Town to watch a soccer match. They contacted us later on in the night to let us know that their team won and that they’d be home earlier than expected. Dan and I seized the opportunity and asked if they’d be so kind to pick us up a snack on the way home. That night we all dined to a delicious meal of McDonalds before calling it a night and heading to bed. Wednesday was going to be a busy day.


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Who Says Mondays Can’t Be Awesome!?

Monday began as a productive day for me. I decided a while ago that I IMG_6998was going to make dinner for everyone on the upcoming Wednesday and I wanted to buy the groceries a couple days in advance. I also wanted to print out a few pictures to give to the Zulus before I left and I figured this would be the ideal time to take care of it.

As I was looking through my pictures I included a number of additional pictures that held great memories that I decided I wanted to give to some of the other volunteers. I still may print out a few more before I depart but for now the small amount I have will have to do the trick. On my last trip I was sure to print some pictures for the Zulus and I was happy to keep the tradition going. I think know I’m going to have to come back in another couple years and see everyone again!

IMG_6997After placing my order to get the pictures printed I grabbed some lunch at the Mug & Bean. I wanted to eat something filling since I knew I’d be missing dinner in the evening for a Frisbee game. I ate the Alabama Slammer which was a very hardy chicken sandwich. Since this place also offered free Wi-Fi I was able to get caught up on all the snap chats I haven’t been able to look through. There were 37 in total and they were all awesomely hilarious. There’s no way I’d have the time or memory to respond to all of them but I really did love them! Thanks everyone!

When my 30 minutes ran out I went next door to complete my shopping list. My plan was to buy enough ingredients to feed an army. I bought all the fillings for chicken fajitas and I hope it’s enough. At this stage in my travels I’m no longer in the green and had to borrow money from my dear father to help me make it through the rest of my trip. I probably spent too much buying the food for Wednesday’s dinner but I really want to finish my trip by doing something special for everyone. I’m hoping to have the Zulus, the volunteers, the kids, and Songo all over for the dinner and I’m concerned there won’t be enough food. It’s the thought that counts though and I just hope I don’t screw anything up. Wish me luck, I’ve never made food for that many people… even if it is something as simple as fajitas. Anyways, I appreciate the support Dad and I can’t wait to see you on Friday. I should be landing into Philly around 3:10. If anyone reads this that knows my dad, please remind him to bring me a winter jacket as I am not prepared for a climate change!

After getting the massive amount of groceries, I picked up the pictures, and made my way back to the mini buses to get back to Kayamandi. It’s always a bit tricky getting home when you have bags and bags of groceries but I was lucky enough to steal a front seat and didn’t have to worry about pushing passed anyone.

For the next couple hours I hung out with a few of the kids that were over IMG_7028and tried to get caught up on my writing. It’s harder than you think keeping an up to date blog when you’re traveling and trying to do a lot. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day for the list of things I always have to do.

Just after 5:30 Corne swung by to pick me up to take me to Frisbee. On Mondays Frisbee is hosted in Cape Town and four teams meet up to play. There is a red team, green team, yellow team, and blue team. I coincidentally brought a blue shirt but was told to warm up with the red team. After doing a run and stretching I was told the put on a yellow shirt and join their team. I had to borrow a shirt from someone but I made my way over and threw around with the yellow team just before the games began. Around this time I was traded to the green team and had to again borrow another jersey. I didn’t know that many people but IIMG_7029 knew a few on each team. The green team was captained by Johnno, a complete all-star of a player that I’ve only ever played against. It was awesome playing with him but a bit of a mistake putting me on the same team as him. Our team went up 9-2 to take half and continued on to a victorious finish. I’m not sure what the final score was but both teams were having a lot of fun. We played well past our hard cap and the other teams were already finished. Our motto was, “Just one more point!” Corne played for the opposing team and was easily the best player they had. He told me after the game thatIMG_7027 their team had voted me the MVP of the game. It’s good to play ultimate and even better to play with two healthy legs. Tonight was all about playing one last time with some great people before I’d have head back home. Thanks so much for the great times everyone! Sandra, I’m sorry you couldn’t play and I hope your leg heals quickly! On the way back to Kayamandi Corne presented me with a brand new Cape Town Ultimate disc. This is the Ultimate gesture and I’m thrilled to have been able to become friends with such amazing people. Thanks for everything guys, I’ll see you around!

By the time I got home it was nearing 10 and I was starving. I scarfed down my dinner, took a shower, and tried my best to stay up with the rest of the volunteers but I was just too exhausted.

IMG_6971November 4 will always be a day I’ll remember and it’s great to fill it with incredible memories. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. Love and miss you Mom ❤IMG_7039