Before coming to Cape Town, I thought I had a good idea of what I was going to gain from this experience: a new set of technical skills, work experience, many new adventures, and an introduction to a whole new culture. Although I have already experienced these things during my time here, the aspects of this trip that has resonated with me the most are the lessons I learned from the people who do not seem to have much at all.
When I found out I was going to be visiting a township, I was not entirely sure what to expect. Was I just going to view one’s way of living as an ignorant tourist? Was this just a way for me to feel lucky with the way that I live? I had no idea what the tour would entail , but through my experience I learned viewing the townships would be a way for me to expose myself to values that I have not given much attention in my life.
When we arrived, the tour guide began telling us all about the township. When he talked about the people and the traditions they had, the focus was always on the community rather than the individual. When someone in the township finds success, it is the whole community that participates in a celebration for them, not just one family. When kids run around, everyone plays with them. Everywhere you look, people work together on different projects and support one another. One fact that stood out to me was that there were multiple families who could easily move out of the township to a nicer area, but they choose to stay to show others in the community that it is possible to prosper regardless of what their living conditions are.
People in this community find their strength from helping each other and working together to improve themselves. This idea of caring about others in your community so deeply resonated with me because it is not something you see often back home. I have always been taught how important it is to be independent and to stand on my own two feet, but I have rarely considered how important it is to be involved with and care for your community. While this trip has given me a newfound sense of independence, it has given me a sense of responsibility to support not only myself or family, but also my surrounding community. I have learned that we can gain much more happiness if we have a group to share it with, regardless of the material objects we have.
My tour of the township was eye-opening not just because I got to see a whole new culture, but also because I got to take away a little piece of it in the form of a life lesson. When I go back home, I will keep the people I met in my heart, and remember that strong human connections are the way we build ourselves and ultimately find happiness. The people in the Langa township do not have a lot when it comes to material goods, but their sense of community is the richest I have ever witnessed and I will cherish my time spent there for years to come.