International Student Trips Powered By Discovery Education
Abby's Adventures in Africa

The Apartheid Museum

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today we went to the Apartheid museum. With a feeling similar to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., this museum takes you into the freedom struggle, the grip of the National Party’s Apartheid, and the happy days of liberation. This museum was extremely powerful. The entrance of the museum has to entry ways; one is designated for “whites” and one is designated for “non-whites.” After merging the two sections, the museum goes on to chronologically depict the freedom struggle and the intensity of the Apartheid. My favorite part was the ending. When leaving the museum, the exit path goes in between two piles of stones. On your left, there is a much larger pile with a huge African flag behind it. On the right, there is a smaller pile. As each person leaves the museum, they are to move a stone from the right to the left to signify the change and that they have been informed. Very powerful. Overall, the day was great and very moving.

The Othandweni Centre

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

“Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Many people are unaware that they are infected with HIV. Less than 1% of the sexually active urban population in Africa has been tested, and this proportion is even lower in rural populations.”

Today we went to the Othandweni Centre and played games with the children there. All of the children there, ranging from ages three to eighteen, are affected by HIV AIDS either directly or indirectly. Many of these children have lost parents to this terrible disease. Othandweni means “Place of Love” in Zulu and Xhosa. The centre offers residential care for up to 90 children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected. Due to poverty and increased social problems, facilities such as this are in high demand. Due to the AIDS pandemic there has been an increase in the rate of child abandonment and many HIV-positive children are in need of shelter and special care.

These children were so cute, fun, and full of life. Judging by their disposition, you would never know that they are in such dispiriting situations. We had a great time with them!

An Anecdote

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Now, an anecdote. This is potentially my favorite story from this trip:

First off, if you don’t already know Kelby Jones, let me tell you a little bit about him. He is funny, energetic, and possesses a thick southern accent that makes me smile every time he talks.

On our plane today from Cape Town to Johannesburg, we had just about the most hysterical flight attendant I can imagine. She would say things like, “after you have your life vest on, you will depart down the slip and slide” or “as you leave the cabin, if you feel like the person in front of you is going too slowly…simply push them.” Well, text isn’t doing her justice. It was all in her delivery over the airline speakers. Anyway, she had Kelby at “Welcome.”

The entire flight, Kelby contemplated a grand gesture to display his new found love for this flight attendant. At one point, he even asked if he could give her my ring so he could propose. Somehow I am not sure she would have appreciated the hot pink ring I got today for 15 rand…

As we were about to leave the plane, in a stroke of brilliance, Kelby decided to write her a letter on the sanitary paper that goes behind all of the passengers’ heads. As he struggled to find a hard surface to write down his emotions, he settled on the ceiling, of course. Then, with his wonderful accent, he questions, “Oh no, why ain’t this pen workin’?” to which I (and several others) responded, “Gravity, Kelby.”

Then, after quickly jotting down his emotions, he read us his letter. It said:

Dear Suzanne,
I will love you 4ever.
Kelby Jones
Discovery Student Adventures

After some coaxing from the rest of us, he then proceeded to leave his BlackBerry email address.
As we left the plane, some other flight attendants pointed the way to Suzanne. As he walked over to her she said, “Sir, the shuttle is over there.” He responded, “I know, but I have something to give you. I finally found a use for those white fuzzy hair things!”

And with that…magic happened. We all believe that she will contact him shortly and there will be a ‘happily ever after' in their future. Don’t you agree?

Kelby likes to associate his accent with that of Atticus Finch from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. He also claimed that this display in the airplane was our dinner theater.

Penguins and more

Today was possibly one of the most fun days I have experienced on this trip.

First we went to Cape Point. Let me tell you, I got some GREAT stuff there! I am just so excited about it!

Then we went to one of my absolute favorite activities so far: we saw the penguins! I love penguins. I just think they are so cute! My mom said that I could just go to NorthPark in December instead of Africa to see penguins, but seriously, so not the same thing. This was awesome. I even got to hold one!

Then we got on the plane to leave Cape Town. I was so sad to leave. Everything about Cape Town is gorgeous. I couldn’t get enough. I urge you to go and visit (and take me with you!) if you ever have the chance. I literally took 2,000 pictures while we were there and I really got some great ones. Here are some from the township on our first day.


Hey everyone!

Well we have had a very eventful last couple of days! Even though I am doing it all at once, I am going to make two separate posts for each day. We can just pretend I am posting it on the actual day. Here we go…

So “today” we went…shark diving! For anyone who knows me, has met me, or has probably even just read this blog, understands that Abby Gentsch is not exactly synonymous with shark diver (to say the least). I got lots of interesting messages from my friends such as, “hell just froze over.” Thanks, Anissa! Anyway, this is all to say that this was quite the big leap for me.

Even though I would go underwater for seconds at a time and then pop back up again and make a pathetic yelping noise, I really did enjoy it. I am not sure I would do it again (been there, done that) but I am glad that I have done it. It is a great story to tell! But poor Stephanie and several others got quite sea sick. It was a pretty rocky ride. I did, however, get some excellent pictures!

Cute outfit, no?

I am the one gripping onto the top bars for dear life. (Third from the top)

I am telling you, it is beautiful in Cape Town!

We then went to a wonderful dinner where we had some extraordinary pre-meal entertainment; we all learned how to do African drumming. Coolest experience ever! This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Then we came back to our hotel, gathered our things for the morning, and crashed. I was totally exhausted (as I have been every night!). This trip just really is the experience of a lifetime. I can’t even express it.

Well…until “tomorrow.”

Currently listening to: The Theme from Jaws

Hello from Cape Town!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I am so sorry that I haven't posted. I was without Internet connection for the first 2 days because of traveling and then last night I had a great post filled with videos and pictures and then I was told my Internet connection was not strong enough. Bummer!

Well, traveling for 48 hours straight was really, really interesting. I think the longest flight I have ever been on was like 4 hours (maybe 5). So two whole days was a huge shock! It was such a fun experience though. The first night (9 1/2 hour flight from DFW to Germany) I slept alright. I got to watch 3 movies which was fun! The second night (12 hour flight from Germany to Johannesburg) I literally fell asleep on the plane before it even took off. It was great!

Our day in Germany was awesome. I love it there! Everyone can pronounce my last name! That just made me laugh. It was such a shock when the guy at customs read it perfectly the first time.

Cape Town is lovely. It has rained almost constantly since we got here yesterday which I actually love. I really enjoy rain so this has been alright by me! However, today we all got SCUBA certified in an outdoor pool in 58 degree rainy weather! It was so exciting though. We had to go in groups of 5 and I actually ended up going twice. Our camera guy had to get trained too so he can film us when we go diving, so he went with the last group. I got to fill in and did the underwater filming for the last group.

I am totally exhausted from the last couple of days. I really hope to be able to share some pictures soon! I have got some great ones! I am currently trying to upload my overview video from yesterday onto my YouTube account. It is going unbelievably slowly so I am not sure that it will make it! If it does, I will let you all know. Thanks!

I promise that future posts will be shorter. They wont be covering as many days! I should be updating at about this time everyday for the rest of the trip.

currently listening to: singing in the rain from singing in the rain

Leaving tomorrow! (Junior year is OVER)

Monday, June 1, 2009

But clearly I am not excited or anything....

I really just can't wait. I have SO much to do between now and then. It has been really difficult getting ready for the trip because I just got out of school today. Bishop Lynch actually isn't out until this Thursday, but I took all of my finals a week early. So when everyone else was taking their first finals today, I was taking my last two. It has been insanely busy and so hectic, but it is totally worth it! I just can't wait until we get on that plane so I can finally get some sleep!

currently listening to: beautiful life by fisher

Essential Programs Details

Duration 12 days
When June 2nd - 13th, 2009
Focus Wildlife Research/Conservation
Political History