Before I left for South Africa, all of my friends that had participated in an IESC program told me that this trip would change my life. I smiled and nodded, but I wondered if they meant that I would be changing the lives of others instead. I knew it would be an eye-opening experience and I knew that it would be an introduction to a different way of living. I knew that introducing a technologically advanced Ford Ranger would bring so many possibilities that it would surely change the lives of the locals in a drastic way. In my naivety, I assumed that I couldn’t possibly experience a change as drastic. How wrong I was.
If I had to summarize this amazing experience and put it into one single word, ‘life-changing’ would be the clear winner. It was nothing short of a life-changing experience. We met some of the kindest people I have ever encountered, and they had such contagious hopeful spirits. We met teens and children that are thirsty for technology and ready and willing to jump in and learn. We really got to know our World Vision partners and they have become great friends. Lastly, we were able to do this with some coworkers that we might not have gotten a chance to meet had it not been for this program.
6 employees, 3 different Intel sites, 4 different home countries, 1 common goal.
I wanted this last post to share some reflections from the team so while we were together in Johannesburg at the end of the trip, I asked each team member to come up with a highlight and a low light from the experience. Nearly everyone needed a few days to think about this, but I have finally collected the information and I am eager to share it.
- Highlight: Starting the morning off with singing ‘Never Give Up’ during Devotions
- Lowlight: Seeing the vast differences between upper class standard of living and lower class standard of living
- Highlight: Gratitude from students after we provided computer training courses
- Lowlight: Cold weather… I had to break out my beanie!
- Highlight: The appreciative students that I taught in computer training sessions, especially the younger ones. They were so enthusiastic and optimistic about their future and technology.
- Lowlight: The cost of accessing the internet, which is a common barrier to further learning through online resources.
- Highlight: Attending the talent show to celebrate Youth Day with a community organization called LGDI.
- Lowlight: Seeing a computer lab at a high school that was fitted for computers, but didn’t actually have any computers.
- Highlight: Teaching World Vision about the technology in the Ford Vehicle.
- Lowlight: Have such a short period of time in each area.
- Highlight: Connecting with students through song and dance. Their energy was contagious… I don’t think I have ever worn a bigger smile.
- Lowlight: Seeing a group of people that was so eager to utilize technology, but lacked the basic infrastructure to support it.