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Read about Tascha Johnson's adventure as she interns abroad through the Cape Town Human Rights program in South Africa. 

It’s All Part of the Journey

 The first two weeks of living abroad has gone by so fast! I cannot believe that at this point I only have eight weeks remaining. However, I will not choose to focus on that aspect of my internship and focus on how absolutely mind blowing my time has been so far.

As I began my journey out of Seattle’s SeaTac airport, I was able to document my trip from Seattle to London and from London to Cape Town. All in all it took just a little over 30 hours to complete, with only one minor hiccup. While I was waiting for the reader board in the Heathrow, London airport to update (which it does once you are about an hour away from boarding) I failed to realize that my cell phone hadn’t updated with the correct local time. My original layover was 8 hours. I looked down at my phone and it read that my plane was due to take-off in a little over one hour. As I checked the reader board, I noticed in bold red lettering: GATE CLOSING. My heart sank! I ran over to the checkout desk to see if the plane could be held for me. It couldn’t. So $300 later and only a one hour delay, I was on my way. I was very fortunate to have another plane headed for Cape Town just an hour later. I would have preferred not to have paid extra money to have to change my flight, but all in all, the rest of the trip went off without a hitch. Lesson learned. Be more aware.

Check-in through customs went really quickly and about an hour after I landed I was on my way to my new home for the next ten weeks in Observatory, just about 10 minutes out of Cape Town.

My living quarters are beautiful! I live in a home that can house up to 8 people. Right now there are 5 other interns living here as well. I wasn’t sure how I would like living with so many people, but I must say, the experience has been great. There’s almost always someone that wants to go somewhere or do something. And because they have been here longer than I have, I have gotten to do many of the things that it took them months to do. I’ve already been able to cross several things from my “to do” list.

So far I’ve visited Hout Bay, the waterfront, took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, seen the wineries of Costantia, gone to the Kirstenbosch Gardens and visited the Old Biscuit Mill (an outside Saturday market with yummy food!). I have several things still on that to do list, but I also have eight more weeks in which to do them.

My internship is in Cape Town South Africa with the Amy Biehl Foundation, a non-profit organization that currently focuses on after school programs for kids between ages 5-18. They offer programs in music, sports, dance, literacy and more. They are now working on a project that will focus on the next phase of education and implementation of those young persons into their communities by offering programs for the 18-25 year olds. They will be teaching classes on entrepreneurship, professional cooking, expanding on literacy and more.

I am currently working with the organization on fundraising and grant writing in order to increase the amount of money coming in so that they can continue the great work that they are doing. I have already worked on rewriting a grant requesting over R 3 500 000.00. That is three and a half million Rand of local currency, which equal just over $250k. That is exciting! I should still be here to see if those funds come through. I’m excited to be able to help in any way that I can. In a few more days I will be working with a classroom facilitator assisting with teaching the kids literacy. And if you’ve never heard of Amy Biehl, I encourage you to please look up her story. I currently work with two of the men who were pardoned in her death. They have worked very hard at turning their lives around.

Life here is definitely more laid back than I’m used to, but I’m hoping that by the time I leave I will have picked up a few of their habits, even something as small as walking just a bit slower. I want to learn how to slow down and enjoy the view. Enjoying the view is just as important as the end result. It’s all a part of the journey.