South Africa: Last Two Days

Hi everyone! The team has arrived at Culver after two long flights, and we are all exhausted.

For the last two days in South Africa, we first headed to Pilanesburg on Sunday morning. On the way to Pilanesburg, we stopped at Lesedi cultural village. Lesedi means “light,” and at the village, a guide led everyone on a lovely tour for about an hour. We were able to learn a lot about the local groups and their respective customs, traditions, and ways of life. Our guide even showed us how to grind food and we were able to enter local huts as well. We were all really impressed that these different cultures coexist in such a small area, and we all learned a lot from the experience. After the tour, we also had a chance to shop at the stores in the village.

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The adults at Lesedi

After we left the village, we drove for around another two hours before we arrived at Bakubung Bush Lodge, where we had a great buffet lunch. We rested for a couple of hours before departing on the game drive at Pilanesburg! Everyone was incredibly excited for safari and we all came very well-prepared. We were very lucky to see a lot of animals on safari, including a very close encounter with an elephant, a couple of white rhinos, and many zebras. After a few hours on safari, we had a great Boma Bush dinner, where we looked at the stars and had really great meat and bread.

The next morning, we left for safari at 5:30 AM. Everyone was extremely tired but excited to see the animals in the morning, as it is one of the times when the animals are the most active. We were fortunate to have some really great spottings again, from a family of lions to a whole herd of elephants including a baby one. We also saw another rhino from up close. Everyone got a lot of great pictures.

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A lioness that got really close to the safari vehicles in the morning

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Some of the many elephants we saw

It was still early in the morning by the time we got back from safari, and we headed to breakfast before we left Bakubung Bush Lodge. After lunch at a local restaurant, we went to the elephant sanctuary, which was something that many team members had been looking forward to. At the elephant sanctuary, they provide a home for elephants that have been mistreated, and it was great to be able to interact with the elephants.

Most of us got “kissed” by the elephants, which was very uncomfortable because we were left with dirt that came from the elephants’ trunk on our faces. We also got to walk the elephants and feed them an afternoon snack.

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The team at the elephant sanctuary

The next day, Tuesday, we all got to sleep in for a little bit. Some of the team went on a brief excursion, with people going to the post office, the mall, as well as a local craft market. After lunch, we headed to the airport for a long flight to Frankfurt and then another flight to Chicago. We finally arrived at Culver on Wednesday evening. Everyone learned so much from the trip and we are so grateful for our trip chaperones, our parents and everyone who made it possible for us to go to South Africa, and everyone who has contributed to the trip in any way. Thank you so much and we know that everyone had a wonderful time and learned so much.

South Africa: Johannesburg Tour

Today was a packed but very poignant day for all of the Culver students. Our new tour guide, Tifo, took us around Johannesburg and we all learned a lot about South African history and how it has impacted the country today.

We started the tour by visiting Nelson Mandela’s house that he lived in until he passed away in 2013. This neighborhood was segregated before 1994 and the only nonwhite people who lived there were domestic workers. In front of the house, there were memorials dedicated to Mandela, in which visitors wrote messages to Mandela on stones.

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As we continued driving through Johannesburg, we noticed a very fancy school called St. John’s College. The students were wearing blazers and there was a rugby game. We also saw a huge amount of graffiti, often reflecting South African politics. Tifo said that graffiti is extremely common in Joburg and there are many artists who use it to spread a particular message.

The next stop was Soweto, where we walked through a market and viewed a monument dedicated to the 1955 Freedom Charter, which put forth the ideals that were wanted for South Africa–such as “the people shall govern” and “the people shall share in the country’s wealth.” Soweto is the location of the infamous 1976 uprising that brought international attention to the struggles of apartheid. The National Party, which established apartheid and was in political control throughout the apartheid years, wanted to make Afrikaans the national language and introduced Afrikaans in schools in the Soweto township. Hundreds of students were killed, and 12-year-old Hector Pieterson was one of the first victims. We were able to visit the Hector Pieterson memorial and the museum.

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Here is a reflection from Erin Postma ’19:

Soweto was an amazing experience. The museum helped put a lot of things into perspective and show the brutality of the shooting. As a senior, I am always very worried about college, but in Soweto, students my age had to fight for their right to be educated in a language they understood. One thing I did not know before visiting the museum is that after the shooting, the police searched for students involved in the protests and shot them. This represents the brutality shown against the innocent students. The museum also included a lot of eyewitness accounts and quotes from people involved in the shooting. It helped me understand what people went through. All in all, it was a very moving experience and I learned a lot factually and emotionally.

Then, we stopped for 20 minutes at the Nelson Mandela house, where we learned more about Mandela’s family life and were able to step into the house, which had a lot of the original furniture when Mandela lived there.

After lunch, we were able to explore the Apartheid Museum. We all agreed that the museum was incredibly well put-together and organized. The tickets to the museum were cards that randomly sorted us as white or non-white, and the people with different tickets had to go through different doorways. Inside the museum, there were very detailed descriptions of South Africa’s history starting from the time before the arrival of Portuguese and British colonists. It explained the events leading up to the creation of apartheid and had many sections that illuminated how terrible apartheid truly was.

One room that really struck the Culver students was the exhibit about solitary confinement. There, the museums replicated the tiny jail cells that visitors could go into to experience, for a brief moment, what many political prisoners had to endure for years of their lives. The museum also had a casspir, or an armored vehicle that was used in many townships by the police, that we were actually able to climb into and sit in. We were completely shocked by how large the vehicle was.

Other exhibits that really left an impression on us were the Political Executions, Truth and Reconciliation, and South African Voices After 1994 exhibitions. The political executions exhibit showed that while dozens of South African activists were killed in detention, the government often tried to hide this by declaring their cause of death to be “death by hanging,” “suffering from a stroke in the hospital,” or something along those lines in the official record.

I was really impressed by the way that nothing was sugarcoated in the museum and they did their best to portray the reality of apartheid and even demonstrate that many of our heroes were not perfect. Understanding the awful human rights violations that occurred during apartheid and confronting the country’s history, the museum believes, is key to moving South Africa forward as a nation. Although the exhibitions about post-apartheid South Africa demonstrate that there are definitely many unresolved inequalities in South Africa, especially with regards to land, it is really important that the museum seeks to confront this past while acknowledging that the present is not perfect either. All of us learned a lot from the tour of Johannesburg today.

After visiting the museum, we had an incredible dinner and are heading to Pilanesburg for our safari! Stay tuned, and if you are reading this, I really encourage you to read about the Soweto uprising and the system of apartheid. It is something that has profoundly shaped South Africa and is essential to understanding the country.

South Africa: Last Day at Christel House

Sorry about the delayed post—we had a busy day of travelling and Jenna and I have been sick for the past couple of days!

March 29 was our last day in Cape Town and at Christel House. Once we arrived at Christel House, we started with tea time with the students from Christel House, talking to them while taking pictures and exchanging contact information as it was our last day with them. Although we had only spent a couple of days with the Christel House students, everyone felt incredibly connected with them and genuinely wanted to stay connected.

Then, Ali facilitated a fun activity that all CGA students are familiar with. We all got in a circle and tried to sit down on the lap of the person behind us. It worked pretty well!

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After the activity, the four houses of USA, Mexico, India, and Jamaica gathered to prepare our performances. Needless to say, they were all very entertaining–there was a lot of singing, dancing, and clapping. We ended with performances from both the Culver students and the Christel House students. We sang the Culver song and “Home” and the Christel House students sang their school song and the South African national anthem, and in the end all of us gathered in a circle to sing “Lean On Me.” It was a very fitting conclusion to our week at Christel House.

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Before we left, we also went around signing our white LCA shirts that each Culver and Christel House student was given.

20190329_114928After lunch, we said our final goodbyes before departing. It is astounding how we were able to make such amazing connections with this wonderful group of students in such a short amount of time. It was an incredibly valuable experience to interact with their humility, vitality, and passion for learning.

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After leaving Christel House, we stopped briefly at a beautiful beach where a lot of us enjoyed ice cream and dipped our toes in the water.

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Rose, Sophie, Ellie, Erin, and Paloma at the Beach

After that, we picked up Abby and Mama Dee and headed to the airport to fly to Johannesburg!

South Africa: Seals, Penguins, and Cape Point

Today was an excellent second day in Cape Town! Everyone got a good night’s rest, and we started our day with an 8:45 boat tour aboard the Naticat from Hout Bay, where we embarked on a brief journey to see a seal colony. We all had a great time looking at the seals and taking pictures.

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The seal island!

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The boats at Hout Bay

After getting off the boat, the team had our first chance to buy souvenirs, and we all brought back an eclectic collection of items, from paintings to jewelry to masks.

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An awesome piece of artwork we saw

After leaving Hout Bay, we enjoyed a gorgeous view as the bus drove through Chapman’s Peak and Boulder’s Beach. The team saw hundreds of penguins at a local penguin colony, and it was wonderful to see the penguins in their natural habitat.

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An adorable mother and baby penguin

Then we shopped a little more at the local market before we headed to lunch at the Seaforth Restaurant, where we enjoyed amazing fish or chicken and discovered a great dessert called malva pudding.

After lunch, we got to enjoy the beach and had fun dipping our toes into the water. Later, we headed to Cape Point, the most Southwestern point of the African continent, where we took the iconic photo in front of the sign that every South Africa GPS trip has taken.

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Cady, Becky, and Jenna at the beach

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The team at the Cape of Good Hope sign!

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The team seniors Ethan, Ellie, Erin, Janelle, Ali, and Sydney at Cape Point

The team also climbed to the lighthouse at the top of Cape Point, where we saw the magnificent view from higher up. Before we started the hike, we were warned that there were wild baboons (or bamboos, as Mama Dee called them) on the trail and told not to bring any food or water, as anything edible or drinkable could be attractive to the baboons. Needless to say, we saw a lot of tourists ignoring the signs not to bring any food or water up the hike, including a man sacrificing his Fanta bottle. Luckily, we made it back with lots of snacks on the bus and had dinner at a fantastic Italian restaurant next to our hotel.

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The view from Cape Point! It was a little foggy today though.

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A close-up of one of the baboons on the trail!

The students also had the chance to get together with their facilitation groups, as we are facilitating workshops at the Christel House school related to Compassionate Listening, Communication, Strengths, and Team-building. We will be starting our first day at Christel House tomorrow and are incredibly excited to get to know the student leaders! One thing we were reminder of today is that rather than teaching or educating the students at Christel House, we are bringing some of our leadership activities to them and learning from each other, and in doing so continue a partnership with Christel House that LCA has had for many years. Stay tuned for our adventures at Christel House in the next couple of days and we hope to make connections and learn as much as we can from their student leaders.

special thanks to Mrs. Strobel and Sydney for the pictures!

South Africa: Meet the Team

Team South Africa is excited to embark on our journey in a few short hours! We hope that you will stay updated with our blog throughout the next two weeks, where we’ll share lots of interesting experiences and learning moments. To start, here’s a little information about each of the wonderful members of our team:

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Adults

Mrs. Strobel

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The adult team leader, Mrs. Strobel is leading the trip for the sixth time this year. Mrs. Strobel is from Culver and she has been involved in LCA for 15 years (almost from the beginning) and is amazed watching how our students continue to embrace the experience and build the relationship we have with Christel House South Africa (CHSA). Our team shares some CGA Leadership Workshops with the Christel House student leaders and she loves to see our students rise to the challenge and embrace the experience as student leaders and global learners. She is excited for the team and future funny moments and is a little nervous about surprises. Mrs. Strobel loves to travel and considers Cape Town one of the most beautiful places she has ever seen. Her goals for the trip are first and foremost to have a safe trip, and then to embraceubuntu—”I am, because you are.”

Mrs. Beeson

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Mrs. Beeson is a counselor at Culver. She grew up in Petion-Ville, Haiti but currently lives in Culver. She chose this trip as she has always been fascinated by the modern history of South Africa. She says, “I remember learning about apartheid as a child (when it was still in force) and celebrating when Mandela was elected president. There are many parallels between the social dynamics in Haiti, and I am excited to be able to learn lessons from South Africa that could be helpful in my own country.” She is most excited about meeting the students and staff at Christel House & visiting locations related to Mandela/Apartheid (Robben Island, Apartheid Museum, Soweto, etc) and is most nervous about jetlag when we come back to Culver. A fun fact is that she hasn’t been out of the country since 2000. Mrs. Beeson’s goal is to help our team have a safe, fun, and enlightening trip together.

Dr. Buggeln

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Dr. Buggeln (or Dr. B) is a humanities teacher at Culver and is from Valparaiso, Indiana. He chose this trip because he has wanted to go to South Africa since his research project on Anti-Apartheid leaders in 1985. He is most excited about being in historic places he has been reading about for years and most nervous about being healthy and safe. A fun fact is that Dr. B’s daughter, Hannah, CGA ‘14 was co-President of LCA, and he is grateful to be one of the few “honorary members” of LCA. A goal is to support the team, Mrs. Strobel, Ethan, and LCA’s good work as well as travel.

Mama Dee

Mama Dee is the Tower RD and she is from Cleveland, Ohio. She chose the trip because she loves Mrs. Strobel and wants to go to a new country and loves meeting new people and helping the kids, but she is nervous about how much we will be travelling. A fun fact is that she loves school! A goal is to learn more about South Africa.

Mrs. Hansen

Having gone on the trip already, Mrs. Hansen, who is from Culver, said that “The experience watching our students work with Christel House was amazing when on the trip in 2016.” She is excited about working together to help others and learn about the culture and people of South Africa, and she loves working with kids and serving others. A goal is to keep everything calm and positive.

Seniors

Ali Kwiecien

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Ali is a senior in Linden dorm from Naperville, Illinois. She chose the trip as she believes that “South Africa Trip offers a little bit of everything: meaningful service, opportunities for leadership, a cultural experience and adventure! Everyone who has been on the SA trips also speak of it so highly and I hope that it is just as life-changing for me as it was for them.” She is excited about leading the Team Building workshops at Christel House and learning about the students’ strengths and stories. She is also excited to deliver the South Africa Drive donations that have been collected over the past few months as part of the South Africa drive she organized, and something she is nervous about is the 12 hour plane ride. A fun fact is that Ali am fluent in Polish and has traveled to 4 out of 7 continents (North America, Europe, South America, and Asia). Her goal is to unplug, be present, and reflect.

Ellie Tice

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Ellie is a senior in Atrium from Kokomo, Indiana. She chose South Africa so that she could learn about another culture and group of people while helping serve and lead among a group of peers. She is most excited about meeting all of the kids at Christel House and getting to play games with them during our team building exercises, and most nervous about jetlag when we come back to school. A fun fact is that she is in the process of getting her pilot’s license, and her goal is to learn something new about someone every day.

Erin Postma

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Erin is a senior in Benson from Crown Point, Indiana. Erin has been very active in LCA over the past four years and is interested to learn more about the culture and history of South Africa by going there. She also hopes to learn more about the relationship Culver has with Christel House and help make that relationship stronger. Erin is most excited to walk down the street in Soweto where the protests took place, noting that “I think it will be a very powerful experience,” and she is most nervous about the flight. A fun fact is that she still has a baby tooth. Erin hopes to have an open mind and learn as much as possible.

Ethan Tinsley

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Ethan is a senior in Band from New Bremen, Ohio and he is the first CMA student to join the South Africa trip. He chose the trip to be enriched in servant leadership and to embrace a culture that is different from his own. He is excited to run workshops and see elephants and is most nervous about the flight. He hopes to make new friends and take many pictures, and one fun fact is that he was born in Japan.

Janelle Li

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Janelle is a senior in Atrium from Saratoga, California but grew up in Shanghai. She chose the trip because of her involvement in LCA and interest in issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. She hopes to help continue the LCA partnership with Christel House and interact with the students there and is excited to learn, meet new people, and see animals. She also wants to learn more, firsthand, about how South African history has informed contemporary South Africa. She is nervous about jetlag after we come back to school and hopes to help run the blog effectively and ask everyone to contribute. A fun fact: she held the Olympic torch in 2008 before the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Sydney Herczeg

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Sydney is a senior in Harbor from South Bend, Indiana. She is excited to work with the students of Christel House. She said, “working with LCA over the last couple of years, Christel House is always mentioned when talking about fundraising or as one of the main organizations that LCA supports. By hearing the name so often, I became very interested in going to South Africa to help continue the amazing relationship that LCA has with Christel House.” She is also interested in traveling to another country and experiencing a new culture; it will be an educational opportunity to see what their day to day lives are like. She is most excited about working with the students are Christel House, experiencing a new culture, and potentially trying new food, and most nervous about being in an unknown place as it could definitely be a sensory overload. Her main goal is that the workshops that we have with the students are meaningful and fun. A fun fact is that she went zip lining over the St. Joseph River.

Juniors

Abby Beck

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Abby is a junior in Court from South Bend, Indiana. She says that she has wanted to go on a mission trip for as long as she can remember, and this interest and her interest in Africa promoted an interest in LCA. She said, “During the meetings and talking to Mrs. Strobel, I developed a love for Africa and the culture that I want to explore even further. I really want to make a difference in the world, and what better place to start than a place that truly intrigues and inspires me?” Abby is looking forward to learning a new culture in a way that never would have gotten without Culver. She wants to bond with everyone on the trip, go on a REAL African safari, and share the leadership she has learned during my time at Culver with others around the world. She is most nervous about the flight, and a goal is to make at least two new friends and embrace South African culture. An interesting fact is that she has alpacas.

Cady Clark

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Cady is a junior in Harbor from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is fourth generation at Culver. She has never been out of the country and wanted her first time leaving the US to be on a service-oriented trip, and in South Africa she hopes to fully embrace herself in the surroundings and unplug from her phone. She is excited about meeting new people and most nervous about the flight.

Nicole Pare

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Nicole is a junior in Linden from Culver. She chose this trip as she loves learning about South African history and the country is a beautiful place. She is excited about meeting all the students we’ll be working with and going on safari and is nervous about the travelling itself. One of her trip goals is to grow in her knowledge of other cultures and be more comfortable with change. One fun fact is that she loves to paint.

Regina Leon

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Regina is a junior in Ithaka from Mexico City. She chose South Africa because she thinks that it is an opportunity of a lifetime. She feels that this trip will help her get closer to a lot more people and will help me learn so much more about a new country that she never thought she would be learning about or even going to. She is excited about animals and nervous about the plane rides, but ultimately hopes to step out of her comfort zone and try new things. A fun fact is that she adopted a dog during the summer and named her Lettuce.

Sophie Parker

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Sophie is a junior in Linden from Knox, Indiana. Having been a member of LCA from three years and being passionate about LCA and the partnerships we have, Sophie conducted a donation drive for the students at Christel House of items they expressed a need for. She wants to meet the girls that the donations were going to and is excited to learning about the stories of the students at Christel House and conduct the leadership workshops with them. She is also very excited for elephant sanctuary because they are her favorite animal, and most nervous about the long flight, as she has never been on a flight over five hours long or flown over large bodies of water. This trip will be Sophie’s first time out of the US, and she wants to change her perspective on the world: “I want to become more humble, grateful, and open-minded because of the trip and the experiences I will have.”

Sophomores

Angel Bao

Angel is a sophomore in Court from Beijing, China. She chose this trip because of the chance to go to a continent she has never been to before, but is also a bit nervous about the new environment. She is excited to work with the students, make long lasting relationships with people on the trip, and learn to appreciate a new culture. Angel has also played the piano since she was 5.

Becky Young

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Becky is a sophomore in Tower from Canton, Michigan. She chose this trip as she wanted new experiences culturally and the events on this trip allow her to do so, and a goal is to come back knowing or having seen something she never has before. She is excited to go to the elephant sanctuary and to form connections with the kids at Christel House and is nervous about giving a bad first impression on the kids in the workshops. One fun fact is that she has skied since she was four but switched to snowboarding at 12.

Jenna Pae

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Jenna is a sophomore in Linden from Yorktown, Indiana. She chose this trip as she wanted to go on a trip that encompassed both cultural enrichment and service opportunities and felt that South Africa was the perfect combination of that. She is most excited about seeing the vibrant culture of South Africa and most nervous about jet lag. A goal of hers is to learn about the daily lives of the people of South Africa and be able to have good conversations with the students of Christel House through the Compassionate Listening workshop. One fun fact: Jenna is a brown belt in karate.

Paloma Guerrero

Paloma is a sophomore in Ithaka from Mexico City. She has always wanted to go to South Africa and hopes to get out of her comfort zone, enjoy as much as she can, and learn about the different culture. She is excited to meet the students at Christel House and for FOOD, and is most nervous about jetlag coming back. An interesting fact is that she has had over 10 fractures.

Rose Hittle

Rose is a sophomore in Court from Indianapolis, Indiana. She wants to learn, experience a new culture, and widen her perspective while helping others, and is excited to meet and create bonds with students from Christel House as well as learn about South African history. She is most nervous about flying on the plane for a long time to a new country and continent. A goal is to make friends with new people and be willing to try new things. One fun fact is that her name can be repeated to form a sentence: Rose arose in rows of roses.

Taylor Lewandowski

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Taylor is a sophomore in Ciel from Culver. She is excited to learn, experience, and grow in a new culture, as well as visit Christel House and form new relationships. She is most nervous about the plane ride. Her goal is to bring a brand new journal dedicated for this trip only, and have time each day to reflect and write about what she did and experienced each day. She also wants to be present mentally and not just physically while taking everything in day by day. A fun fact is that she is really good at “the worm” dance.

Freshmen

Angela Zhang

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Angela is a freshman in Benson dorm from Fremond, California. She chose this trip to help those in need and is looking forward to leading workshops and visiting the elephant sanctuary. She is most nervous about safari animals and bugs. One of her goals is to learn words in a different language and meet new people. A fun fact is that she can turn her wrist 360 degrees.

Katherine Beeson

Katherine is a freshman in Atrium from Houston, Texas, but she lives in Culver. She was initially interested in this trip because of her membership in LCA, but after learning more she really wanted to be a part of it. She says that “it seems to be a trip where many friendships are made, both with students at Christel House and fellow Culver students. It is also a great oppurtunity to learn about the history of South Africa, and to develop leadership skills. As a freshman, I think this trip will be a great way to start off my Culver career.” She is excited to meet and exchange stories with students at Christel House as well as visit the elephant sanctuary, and is most nervous about the flight as she has never flown over water, had a long flight, or experienced jetlag. She has also never left the country before. One of her goals is to learn as much as she can about leadership and teamwork and expand her global perspective.

 

Tanzania – Last Day of Safari and Coming Home

Photos by Mrs. Strobel and Jason

Unfortunately, Sunday was our last day on safari. On Sunday, we were at Ngorongoro Crater park; in order to see the best animals, we had to wake up at 4:45 to get to the park before sunrise!

While driving down to the crater, my safari vehicle, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, listened to Regan’s Lion King music to pump ourselves us. Our driver, Ollie or Babakuku (Grandpa Chicken) told us that Pumba means “foolish one” in Swahili, and we already knew that simba means lion. We were so excited as we headed into the crater while watching the sunrise.

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Sunrise at Ngorongoro Crater

The first animals we saw in the crater were different types of birds, from guinea fowl to an awesome secretary bird posing on a tree. We also saw some warthogs, wildebeest, impala, zebras, and more early in the morning. Unfortunately, we also saw a hyena that was sick and struggling to move. We really hope that the hyena did not have to suffer much longer. Luckily, we did see some healthy hyenas.

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Some zebras and wildebeest grazing on the vegetation
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A great capture of a hippo opening its mouth!

We were so excited to see some elephants on Saturday, and today we saw even more! Regan counted 42 elephants.

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A herd of elephants in the distance

One of goals for Sunday was to see cats, and we were so lucky to see approximately 19 lions!

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We were lucky to see a male lion so close to the vehicle!

One of the highlights of the day was seeing 4 black rhinos! Black rhinos are critically endangered animals, and many tourists don’t have the opportunity to see any black rhinos, so we are incredibly lucky to have seen four. Unfortunately, black rhinos are also victims of poaching, so we chose not to post photos to protect them from poaching.

We also had some emergency bathroom issues while in the crater. Also, when we stopped for lunch, a huge bird swooped by and took Ophelia’s chicken!

We are so fortunate to have been able to experience these three amazing days on safari; it was absolutely unreal.

After departing from Ngorongoro Crater, we headed to the Smith Campus of the School of St. Jude, which is the secondary school campus. We stayed there for the night and enjoyed our last dinner cooked by Peter–delicious beef and pasta and veggies.

On Monday, we spent the morning at Cultural Heritage, which includes cultural art exhibitions, shops, and cafes.

The Cultural Heritage Gallery

Our facilitator and one of the interns at the school, Wens (Wenseslaus), wrote us an amazing card that we got to read on the way back from Cultural Heritage. We miss Wens and all of the other St. Jude Staff a lot and are so grateful for how hard they worked and how much they helped us throughout our stay at the school. Our 10 days in Tanzania were a life-changing experience and it is, in a huge part, thanks to everyone we met in Tanzania. We’ll be thinking about all of you. Thank you!

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The card from Wens – thank you so much!

When we got back, we had lunch and then went on a tour of the Smith Campus with Wens and Innocent.

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Group photo with Peter, our chef, and Wens and Innocent, the interns
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Group photo in front of the school with Wens and Innocent, the interns, who took us on a tour of the campus

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No girl allowed in the boys dorms!
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No boy allowed in the girls dorms!

After that, we had a couple hours to pack or socialize before heading to the airport. No one wanted to leave Tanzania, and we were even joking about “accidentally” dropping our passports out the window.

All jokes aside, our journey was very successful; we got through each flight and customs without a problem and arrived at Culver at around 6 PM.

Thank you so much to everyone who followed our blog in the last few days! Also, thank you to everyone who made this trip possible and to everyone that allowed us to go on the trip!

Tanzania – Safari Day 2

We woke up at 5:15 on Saturday and had a great breakfast at the hotel before heading to Lake Manyara, a national park near the edge of the Rift Valley, a little after sunrise. Lake Manyara is a wonderful park with freshwater lakes, forests, as well as open grassland.

Safari is what many regard as the quintessential African experience, and our day at Lake Manyara definitely lived up to our expectations. Regan was especially excited because of our first elephant sighting; later in the day, we were right in front of two elephants crossing the road, which was absolutely incredible. Though we did not get to see the lion or leopard we were hoping for, we saw other amazing animals, including the vervet monkey, lots of zebras, and some groups saw a dik-dik. We also saw a bunch of hippos peeking up from the lake.

Here is Regan’s reflection about the elephants:

Regan Murphy ’18

My goal for this entire trip was to see an elephant and to my excitement, we accomplished this goal. On the first day of our safari, I desperately looked out the window with my binoculars pressed up against my eyes hoping to see an elephant. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any (real) elephants on the first day, but I was hopeful we would see one on day two. The next day rolled around and I listened to Disney’s The Lion King through my headphones on the drive down to Lake Manyara. I was feeling really optimistic and told my car that I had good vibes about this park and was confident we would see an elephant today. About 15 minutes into our drive, our vehicle, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, came to a rolling stop as we approached a large rock. To my surprise, this rock turned out to be a real African Elephant. Mrs. Strobel shouted back to me and said “Regan, elephant, 8 o’clock!!!!” I sprung up from my seat and looked through my binoculars; I finally saw an elephant in its natural habitat and I was in shock. The elephant adjusted its body to a position where you could finally identify that it was an elephant. I wanted to make sure I captured the moment, so I took way more pictures than one person would ever need of an elephant.  Thankfully, this was not the only time we spotted an elephant during this adventure. I kept track of all the elephants we saw today and I recorded 16 elephant spotting’s in Lake Manyara. My favorite ele experience occurred an hour into our drive. We were swerving around one of our cars because they were driving too slow, when we happened to see rocks rustling through the vegetation. Two GIANT elephants leisurely strolled passed our car. They were not even 5 meters from our car when they casually walked down the road and through the bushes in a majestic manner. I took an incredible video of the elephants and was so amazed at the calm nature of these creatures. Erin whispered to the elephants “Do you want a Pringle?” as they passed our car. I will never forget this moment and feel so blessed to have witnessed such a beautiful animal. In total, we saw 58 elephants during our three day safari.

elephant
The elephant from close up!
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Another photo of the elephants
zebra
The zebras!
Vervet Monkey
Spotting of the vervet monkey!

inside

lake

Here is a list of the animals we saw today:

  • olive baboons
  • silvery cheeked hornbill
  • african elephant
  • yellow billed storks
  • hammerkop
  • impala
  • wildebeest
  • southern ground hornbills
  • cape buffalo
  • spurwing goose
  • oxpeckers
  • greycrown cranes
  • egyptian geese
  • blacksmith lapping
  • thick-knee
  • hippopotamus
  • african jacana
  • glossy ivis
  • sandpiper
  • crowned lapwing
  • vervet monkeys
  • zebra
  • maasai giraffe
  • warthop
  • waterbuck
  • flamingo
  • dik-dik

After driving around the park, everyone participated in the tree top sky walk. Here’s Lily Thorgren’s reflection on the activity:

Lily Thorgren ’21:

“The highlight of my day today was the tree top sky walk. We climbed up stairs onto platforms and then onto shakey bridges. The bridges increasingly got higher and higher. Although I was timid, I went onto each one. It was really exciting to get a new view from new heights. My ultimate favorite time on the bridges was the facial expressions of comedian, Erin Postma.”

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tree top 3tree top 2tree top 8tree top 7tree top 1tree top 6tree top 5

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After the tree top walk, we returned to our hotel for a great lunch. Then, we headed towards Ngorongoro Crater, where we stayed for the night. On the way, we stopped at a couple stores to pick up souvenirs and snacks.

At a shop, Tom bought a spear, which was one of his goals for the trip. He bartered a lot on the spear. Later, when we arrived at the hotel, Tom decided to “sacrifice” Jason in order to see a rare black rhino on safari.

Jason
Tom’s “sacrifice”

We had an early night to prepare to wake up extremely early the next morning, as the best sightings often happen very early.

Funny moments of the day:

Erin and Sierra played a practical on Evan.  We had arrived at the Ngorongoro Crater and were admiring the view from the top the crater from a railing.  Evan let Erin use her binoculars and quickly gave them to Sierra to hide them.  “Evan, did you like your binoculars?” Erin asked Evan while looking over the banister.  He quickly started to search for them over the railing before they told him they had taken them.

binocs
There are no binoculars visible in this picture, but they are in Sierra’s hand before the joke.

While taking pictures at the top of the crater, a party from Zimbabwe started taking pictures with the non-black members of our trip.

selfies
The party from Zimbabwe started taking pictures with us.