Barry Goldenberg

Education Intern | Cape Town
26 September 2010

Trying to find the right words to accurately describe my experience in Cape Town during my 7 weeks as a Connect-123 participant would, quite frankly, be impossible to do. I’ve grown immensely as a person during those 7 weeks, experiencing things and emotions that will forever leave an imprint on who I am as a person.

Furthermore, my experience in Cape Town was not just another trip but in fact the clichéd “life-changing” experience that we all want to happen! The staff at Connect-123 gave me all the tools to create a wonderful journey—and continued to help me all along the way. Unlike other tours or vacation stays, actually living in Cape Town with Connect-123’s help provides the opportune growing experience; I grew from a guy who just enjoyed the “cool,” tourist aspects of Cape Town to having a very, very deep-rooted passion for South Africa and even more, for the people who live there. Melanie and the entire Connect-123 team are wonderful; they helped me expertly craft my Cape Town experience to one that was uniquely “me.” Even more, Melanie found me the most awesome internship at a school.

My internship allowed me to leave my comfort zone and fairytale life in Los Angeles resulting in the most eye-opening and humanizing experience ever. I worked with impoverished kids from the poorest townships outside Cape Town who also happened to be some of the most lively and warmest children I’ve ever been around. Again, my internship experience made my trip so remarkable and I truly cannot thank Melanie enough for her hard work to make my internship so perfect.

Truthfully, writing my reflection on this trip is almost like running an impossibly long marathon; there is so much to say about my trip to Cape Town as I’m not I’ll ever be able to give justice to what my experience in South Africa has meant so me. In reality, what makes Cape Town so amazing is that it has something for everyone; there are endless array of tourists attractions that are special only to Cape Town (half that I never made it too), crazy amount of extreme activities like shark-cage diving and bungee-jumping, unique African-infused restaurants with engaging entertainment, and the most incredible night life (coming from someone who lives in LA) if you are into that sort of thing. Anyone can come here and really enjoy the city–and that is awesome in itself as I would encourage any prospective Connect-123 participant to do.

The best part about it is Connect-123 gives you all the avenues to do those sort of awesome things. And for the first few weeks I did just that; I went from tourist attraction to attraction, doing all these “fun” things that I genuinely enjoyed. Since I only had 7 weeks to cram everything, Melanie and the staff really helped me find the best activities to do. In result, I’ll always have pictures reminding me of these awesome things–from hikes, to museums, to markets, to safaris, to restaurants, to malls, to rugby games, etc….the list goes on!

But what truly makes Cape Town ever more special is when you go deeper into the making of this curious and oft-misunderstood city. What won’t fade will be the feelings I have felt, the things I’ve learned, the emotions I’ve become entrapped in, and again, mostly, the people I’ve met. While I spent the first few weeks as a tourist, I slowly dug deeper into the fabrics of this country and spent the latter few weeks in a different layer of meaning in terms of what it meant to be in South Africa. I began to find real meaning in why I was here. And after all, that is why I wanted to come to South Africa over other “beautiful” places in the world because the dynamics and history of this country is unmatched to any other. And I did just that.

Connect-123 gave me extra suggestions to volunteer, gave me information on lectures on social change at various universities, and organized a class to help me learn the local language Xhosa that enriched my experience beyond belief. Again, the best part about their organization is that while they won’t hold your hand while you are there, they are the ideal support group, helping each participant mould his or her experience into something unique to them.

Even after my trip, my brain continues to be in a state of insanity, trying to make sense of what just happened the past 7 weeks as my heart is still numb trying to comprehend all that has taken place. My 7 weeks went by so fast, but yet I know now that South Africa will always be a part of me.

I once heard the line from a poem that said, “may great kindness come of it in the end.” After 7 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, great kindness definitely came of my trip, and for that, I am forever grateful to the places and people—including the staff at Connect-123 that made this all possible—who made this such a truly special, heartfelt and exciting 7 weeks.

Back to all reviews
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Abigail D

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