In June of 2008, I was surprised with a trip to Africa, but this wouldn’t be just any trip to Africa. I was going to South Africa with my Aunt Dwana to visit Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. I had been to many places before, Brazil, Paris, Bahamas, but I knew this trip would be different. As an African American intellectual I was very excited to finally see Africa, and rid myself of the stereotypes that I believed to be true. I had never flew first class before, but that was about to change. Flying first class was amazing! I didn’t know that I could enjoy myself during an eighteen hour flight. I remember having shrimp and pasta for dinner and being able to adjust my seat so that it was a bed, I loved ever bit of it, and pondered whether or not I wanted to get off the plane. As I stepped off the plane and received my luggage I was greeted by a chauffeur. The chauffeur drove us to our home to be for the next two weeks and allowed us to go to bed, it was about 12:45 am in South Africa, and we had to be up early for the next day. I didn’t one ounce of sleep of the night, I could just feel the joy and excitement creeping through every inch of my body. My aunt was working for Oprah and tomorrow I would be meeting the girls. This would be the experience of a life time, and indeed it was.
I woke up in the morning, took a shower and made sure to look cute, I wanted to impress the girls. When our chauffeur came to pick us up, I hopped in the van and sat impatiently waiting to arrive at the school. It wasn’t the thought of meeting Oprah that excited me, it was the thought of meeting African young ladies that were intrigued by the world and craved for knowledge just like myself. As my aunt and I met the dean of the school we looked at the campus in amazement. As time passed and lunch came I was dying to meet the girls. I left the office, and proceeded to the dining hall. There is where I met the most incredible people ever. Jody was the first to approach me. “Who are you?” she asked.
“Imani, I’m here with my aunt, she’s going to teach dance for the I am workshops,” was my reply.
“Oh, okay, want to sit with us?”
“I would love to, thank you.” I knew that this would be the start of great friendships. Later on that day, I received my schedule for the classes and workshops I would be taking, I was in Group 9A. It was then that I met my current bestfriend, Waniq Botha. I don’t remember all the words that were said, but I know that we hit it off almost instantly. She would be my partner in crime during my two weeks there, and little did I know, but our friendship would continue for years to come.
For the next two weeks wherever I went on campus Waniq was there with me. Waniq taught me so much. Never in a billion years did I think that I would have so much in common with someone who lived in another continent. My friendship with Waniq has taught me a lot about Africans, and Afrikaans culture. Having Waniq as an excellent friend has meant the world to me, and taught me not to believe the stereotypes about anyone, or anything.
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