Kalahari – What was it like?

Kalahari Experience Trip to South Africa - Another Successful, Worthy Trip

On July 24th 2015, 25 FIS students, 10 alumni students, and 3 alumni students gathered around Frankfurt International Airport and headed to Johannesburg, South Africa. After the 9 hours flight, we arrived at Johannesburg and departed for Kuruman, which was 10-hour-drive. It was the longest drive I’ve ever experienced. Upon arrival, we set out to work and prepare for education service we would provide for the students at 3 different schools.

One negative aspect of this year’s trip, if I had to name one, would be the reduced teaching hours. For secondary schools, we taught for only 3 hours per day and we didn’t teach on Sunday, although teaching hours were longer in the previous trips. Therefore, we put lots of efforts into preparation for lessons to make the best use of the limited time for us and local students. As a result, by the time we finished teaching, FIS members and local students all enjoyed we had built valuable connections with the local students. After that, we visited local market which involved lots of bargaining and the National Park where we went on a safari tour.

Many ask “Why would you spend 2,000 euros on visiting South Africa for only 2 weeks? Aren’t there other better ways of helping South African people?” I want to emphasize that the trip involves many processes, not just spending 2,000 euros and flying to South Africa. The trips involves lots of preparation, donation and fundraising activities, so it’s not just about travelling to South Africa. Also, this trip brings positive changes to the team members’ life and the lives of the local students we meet in South Africa. We’ve met many local people who have been taught and inspired by by Kalahari Experience members, overcame their poverty, and became successful as teachers, dancers, and even as an Opera singer! They said that Kalahari team made an importance dedication to their life and they’ve been helping us during our trips down there.

Not only that the trip inspired them, the trip also inspired us. We got to learn about the poverty and interact with local students who inspired us. I still remember a thank-you letter from a local girl who confessed the difficult times she had with her abusive father. We were all deeply impressed by her cheerful, positive, and passionate attitude towards learning. I, who don’t have solid goals for the future, personally learned a lot from local students who, in spite of their poor socioeconomic backgrounds, all live with solid goals in their future. For me, personally, the trip was also a great opportunity to know about FIS. I have been at FIS for just about a year. The trip enabled me to get to know new people, both alumni and the current students of FIS and extend beyond ‘comfort zones’ – as Mr. Sinclair called it.
Overall, I think the trip was a very fantastic trip. Although I can’t join the trip next year, I wish I can join the trip afterwards. I want to take this as a chance to encourage many FIS students to join Kalahari trip.