Ellen is pictured here with Gogo, who made them a South African dinner at her house.

I spent Summer 2023 in Makhanda, South Africa, where I was immersed for three weeks in the life and culture of the Eastern Cape. We took isiXhosa lessons (which is one of the primary languages spoken in the Eastern Cape), had traditional South African meals, a Braai, a meal with a local resident of Makhanda named Gogo, and went on a safari! Being in such a different place for three weeks, we really got to learn and engage with members of the community. I got to hear stories about the lives of people who I never imagined I would meet, and made friends that I’ll have forever. This was such an incredible experience in so many ways.

I didn’t expect the stories that were shared with me to hit me so hard. We encountered people with very tragic stories, and I was brought to tears on a few occasions just listening to them share. I was surprised at how open and welcoming the people were with sharing their experiences. I will be sharing my experience at a dinner for faculty, staff, and peers of my CCE major!

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