South Africa at a Glance
My name is Olivia Ford and I am sixteen years old, and my mother and I lived in South Africa from 2003 to 2006. Living in South Africa helped me learn how to appreciate the things that I have, and the gifts that I receive. I was and I am a very fortunate person living in South Africa and in America. After coming back from South Africa, I started to appreciate my house, my family, and respect for others.
When living in South Africa I had a nanny/house keeper who would stay with us for twenty-eight days then go home for three days before returning for another twenty eight days. She stayed in a room smaller then my bed room, and all it contained was a bed, a radio, and a hot plate to cook food. At times, she would try and fit her four kids in this tiny room, because it was better than her small home. She lived in Diepsloot also known as the “shanty town”. This is a whole town made out of scrap metal, tin, wood, and other sturdy objects. These families would support each other in any way that they could. They had no running water or electricity. Generally, they would only eat bread for a meal or take the leftover from our home.
Living in South Africa, I attended a North American International school that way I could still be in the proper grade when we returned back home. Being that I did attend an American school, I got American and South African holidays off. In South Africa, around 30% of the kids attend boarding school. These kids do not get to go home on holidays, and rarely get to see their families the entire year. The other 70% of the kids attend year round schooling, which meant that they would be in school for around four months, and then have a two week break. In South African schools they are taught Afrikaans. I only learned a couple of words just so I could say I spoke the language, like “dankie” which means thank you.
I was taught a quite a few lessons while living in South Africa, but the most important lesson I learned was from the wild life. On a family vacation in Zimbabwe, I learned the lesson, to respect whoever was there first. My step-dad and I were at the hotel about to get our bags when my step –dad said stop talking. I was around nine so I just thought I had been talking too much, sadly I wish that was the case. My step -dad started walking really slow; I couldn’t see anything so I proceeded to do the same behind him. We walked past, and finally I could see and what I saw was shocking. There were about twenty Baboons. There they were the Mom, the Dad, and their babies. . Since the Baboons were there first we proceeded to the room. We finally got to our room after what had seemed to be twenty min of them staring at us and us staring back at them. That is where I learned my first lesson of how to respect others territory.
After coming back home, I expected myself to not break my toys, or rip my clothes. It seemed as though I had gotten worse with my belongings instead of better. A lot of kids and teens in America (including myself) take for granted the things that we do have. Weather it is food, clothes, shoes, or even toys. We think that we don’t have to earn anything that we can just get it, but it is a totally different story for the kids in South Africa. In the future I hope to go back to South Africa and help the people I wasn’t able to help the first time I went. The next trip to South Africa will be a trip of giving instead of receiving
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