I have good news and bad news. The good news is that no one was eaten in the game park last weekend (I lose $20). The bad news is that our three weeks in the South Africa are over and we’re heading back home this evening. When I last wrote (I don’t like to use “blog” as a verb), our team had just spent the first week getting settled into our surroundings in Sandton Johannesburg and our new office at loveLife, an HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention NGO focusing on the South African youth population. Yesterday, we gave two final presentations to our partners at loveLife and enjoyed our last night out on the town. The two weeks in between were filled with travel, cultural lessons, and some good ole fashion hard work.
As I mentioned in my last post, our IBD project is to help loveLife develop revenue-generating business plans. When we arrived in Africa, we all expected to experience culture shock from being a new country. The biggest culture shock, however, came from introducing profitable business models to a not-for-profit organization. We soon discovered that our work would not only include developing business plans, but helping the organization to understand the difference between generating a surplus and being a for-profit organization.
In South Africa, we’ve experienced three very different cultures: Johannesburg, Cape Town, and rural South Africa. Johannesburg is very developed and has luxury malls scattered throughout the city. Although it is a city of walls and fences, the people of Johannesburg are extremely open and friendly. As a side note, the city seems to be obsessed with Hyundai. Who wouldn’t love 2012 South African Car of the Year?
Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Mountains next to beaches create amazing vistas of this coastal town and the nightlife is reminiscent of New Orleans with live music, good food, and balcony-lined streets.