Table Mountain and Robben Island

Today was full of scenic views and interesting history! We started out by going to Table Mountain this morning and riding a cable car to the top. Table Mountain is one of the new 7 Nature Wonders of the world and the views are breathtaking. On our way up, the cable car floor rotated around so we had a 360 degree view of everything going up the mountain. We spent about an hour at the top and took great pictures! We even saw gophers that inhabit the mountain, as well as someone repelling down the mountain. We had a lot of fun snapping pictures, and everywhere we looked there was another great view.

After Table Mountain we came back to the waterfront to grab lunch before heading out to Robben Island. We took the boat to Robben Island about 1:30, and the ride took about an hour. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned at Robben Island for 18 years, so we took a tour around the prison and saw his cell. We saw the lime quarry where he and several other of the political prisoners worked, as well as where another political figure, Sobukwe, was held apart from the other prisoners. After seeing the film set yesterday, it was so neat to see the prison in real life. The courtyard and hallway looked so similar…as did the stone, but today it wasn’t painted styrofoam :). The boat ride back from the island was so beautiful because the sun started to set!

We had a group dinner tonight at a restaurant named Moyo, which serves traditional African food. They washed our hands before dinner and painted our faces with designs. The food was delicious and the jazz band was phenomenal. We had a great time interacting with each other and enjoying the experience.

Tomorrow about 15 members of the group are going shark diving, and the rest of us are doing the Cape Peninsula tour. It should be a fun and scenic day for those of us doing the tour, and we hope for the best for the shark divers!

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Film Studios and Villiera

Yesterday was a great day, but today gave it a run for its money! Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy today’s activities because we had several fun experiences planned. We started off the day by going to Cape Town Film Studios. It is fairly new after being started in 2010, and has been booked ever since. We spoke with both Sam and Ross from the studios who gave us some insight into the industry and how Cape Town Film Studios is doing. “Safe House” starring Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington was filmed there, and currently they are shooting a U.S. series “Black Sails”. They wrapped up filming today for Black Sails and will start back in September. The plan is for them to shoot there for ten years–so be on the lookout for it! We could not go on the set because it was live, but we did see the set for “Long Walk to Freedom” which is about Nelson Mandela’s journey. They recreated a town in Jo’burg where he grew up, and also re-created Robben Island because that was much more convenient and cost effective than actually shooting in those locations. We could not take pictures because the movie and series have not come out yet, but it was such a neat experience!

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The sign at the entrance to the film studios!

Following the film studios we went to lunch at a beautiful outdoor place! They had a rose garden, a plant sanctuary, a gazebo, a restaurant, and chickens walking all around. We sat at a long picnic table and enjoyed several courses. The day was absolutely gorgeous, and it was so nice to be outside. We stayed there for about an hour and a half before heading to Villiera.

We arrived at Villiera and learned about the wine estate as well as the daycare center on site called Pebbles. Villiera is very sustainable, and striving to help the environment and community is a top priority for the family-operated business. We sat in the boardroom to hear background and ask questions, then went to Pebbles to see the children for a few minutes and drop off crayons and construction paper for them! After playing with the children we hopped on trucks to see the wildlife game reserve that Villiera has set up. We saw guinea fowl, antelope, springbok, a giraffe, and zebras. It was neat to be so close to them. We are all very much looking forward to our other game drives since we had a small taste today! Following the drive we were fortunate to taste several of Villiera’s wines. They were all wonderful and the staff were so friendly!

Overall, everyone seemed to have a great time and the day was such a fun experience! Tomorrow we visit Table Mountain and the real Robben Island (not the movie set) where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Another day that is sure to be a blast!

ImageThe entrance to where the Villiera boardroom was located

ImagePicture of the Pinotage wine bottle–Pinotage is uniquely South African!

 

 

Leadership and Langa

Today was an amazing day for us here in Cape Town. We started out by having two presentations in the morning. The first was with Professor Kurt April titled “The Stories of South Africa: Leading Your Own Story.” We have a theme of storytelling these two weeks because storytelling is so important to the South African culture. Kurt mentioned how leadership is not only exercised by those in positions of leadership, and that not all experiences are equal, rather it is the lessons you learn from your experience. In addition, he challenged us to think about what success means for us personally. Many people measure success through the amount of money earned or what other people think. However, we need to formulate our own concept of how we measure how successful we are. Until we understand our own narratives and stories we will not truly know how to become a responsible leader.

Following Kurt’s presentation, we heard from Professor John Luiz. Both of the men are professors at the Graduate School of Business located in the building next to our hotel. John discussed the South African business context. His presentation was very interactive, and we had more of a discussion rather than a lecture. He showed us part of former president Mbeki’s speech about what it means to be African. South Africa has been changing tremendously over the past several years, and natives are still trying to figure out what it is that they wanted to see happen after Apartheid ended. John said that the main business opportunities are in education because the quality of government schooling is so poor. If someone could find an education model that works and franchise it, then there is a profitable opportunity for them. All of us were very interested in what John had to say and were able to learn a great amount about the current business situations in South Africa.

Following the presentations we had lunch at the hotel and then boarded the bus to go to Langa, which is the first and oldest township in South Africa. Townships were formed when blacks were kicked out of their towns after Apartheid began in 1948. We had tours with some of the former LEAP school students and several of them were Langa residents. LEAP schools focus on science and math, and they provide opportunities for higher education to students. Much of Langa homes are shacks, however many residents can afford to move away, but choose not to. There is such a sense of community, and there are always people out and about. It is unfortunate that in America we don’t have that much of a sense community because we have such busy lives and all resort to our own homes. The Langa residents love where they are and most do not plan to ever leave!

We visited Shoprite in Langa, which is a grocery store. We compared it to Pick n Pay, and it was much smaller with less variety. After visiting Shoprite, we stopped to talk with a man who owns a little food container on the side of the road in Langa. He has been doing it for about 7 years, and before that he was involved in social work. He had many insights that he provided us with and we enjoyed speaking with him. Several school kids came up to buy from him after they got out of school. He said that school children are some of his most frequent customers. We even saw chicken feet in person at his place after we have been hearing about them all week! 

We returned back to the hotel for a debriefing session and unpacking what all we learned and saw today. It was an enjoyable day and we had such great experiences! Tomorrow we visit Cape Town Film Studios and Villiera Wine Estate. It should be a fun day!

ImageSome of the kids in Langa that we had the pleasure to meet!

ImageThe food truck in Langa

 

 

Cape Town Challenge

Today we went on a scavenger hunt around Cape Town with different stops that allowed us to meet people and learn more about the South African culture. There were four teams competing, and we had a packed day as we wrote down answers to the many questions about our experiences. We first went to Pick n Pay, which is supermarket that has more things than just food. It is very similar to a Wal-mart, but on a little bit smaller scale. The price tags were digital and their portions were smaller. We bought lunch there to eat on our taxi ride to our next destination.

We had two groups to a taxi, and one set of two went to RLABS first, and the second set of two went to the District 6 museum first. RLABS is a non-profit that helps entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and use their creativity to better the community. It stands for Reconstructed Living Labs because the creative entrepreneurs are trying to reconstruct themselves, as well as the community, through their ideas. In addition to learning about RLABS we were able to hear about and see some of the places where there has been past gang activity and how that has been a part of the history of Bridgetown where RLABS is located.

My group talked to two young men named Jason and Nathaniel, 22 and 19 in age, respectively. They came up with an application that connects talented people in the arts with scouts and others that can help them jump start their career. They are both musicians themselves, and it is something they are very passionate about. They are in month 3 of the 9 month incubation period and are working hard to try to get this application to take off. We wish them the best of luck! The other groups met with different entrepreneurs, and all of the ideas were great!Image

The sign at the front of RLABS today. They are really striving to help their community!

Next we hopped back in the taxi and went downtown to the District 6 museum. There we spoke with Abu Brown who discussed what life was like in the 1960’s before the white people kicked them out of District 6 in 1966. He said that everything was safer and had a sense of community. After the white people sent them elsewhere, nothing was the same and the area became less safe. The museum had several different artifacts and interesting stories related to that issue.

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A drawing on the floor of the District 6 museum showing a map of the area before it was taken from them.

After we all completed the Cape Town Challenge we debriefed and shared creative presentations. The presentations included 2 Jeopardy games, a step/dance routine with qualities of the people we met and the places we went to, and quotes and insights involving tweets and hashtags. Group 4 ended up winning the cupcake prizes, but we all had a good time putting the presentations together. Up next are a few presentations in the morning and visiting a township in the afternoon!

 

We Have Arrived!

We made it!! After several long flights and struggling to catch some sleep on the airplanes, we are here. The majority of our group took the flight from RDU to London on Sunday/Monday and were able to spend a few hours going through the beautiful city. The girls ate at a cute French bakery, but the guys thought it was too girly and went elsewhere. They missed out! We saw Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. We cut our time short in the city, though, and headed back on the Underground to the airport because we were so tired and exhausted from being up for so many hours. 

Our flight left London around 8:30 pm Monday night and arrived in Cape Town at 8:30 this morning (Tuesday). Most of us were able to get more rest on this flight and felt much better when we arrived than when we boarded the plane. We took a bus to our hotel and got settled in and showered.

After settling in and eating lunch, just about everyone walked around the Waterfront and saw part of Cape Town. It is absolutely beautiful! Also, the weather today is so gorgeous–sunny with a little breeze. We had our introductory session about the program from 3:00-4:45 pm where we learned more about the itinerary and discussed our own strengths and weaknesses regarding our leadership styles. Tomorrow we will do the Cape Town Challenge which is sort of a scavenger hunt where we learn from people all around Cape Town. It should be lots of fun!

Tonight some of the girls made reservations at a restaurant at the Waterfront for our group to bond and get to know each other better outside of the classroom. We should have a fun and valuable learning experiencing these next two weeks!

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A picture of Big Ben from our visit to London!Image

The Waterfront at Cape Town

5 Days Until Takeoff!

In just about 5 days our group will be leaving the States and headed to Cape Town, South Africa. We have 24 students from Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill who will be joining in on a Global Immersion Elective for 2 weeks to Cape Town and Johannesburg. After 4 pre-departure sessions during the semester, our group has learned about the companies we will be visiting and various cultural issues present in South Africa.

I am a rising senior at UNC and I am so excited to have this opportunity. We leave on Sunday, May 12 and will return on Monday, May 27. We have an exciting and busy journey ahead that I am sure will not disappoint! As we learn about and experience this beautiful country full of history, we want you here at home to feel that you are sharing in part of the experience with us. Follow us and I will keep you updated as we experience Cape Town and Johannesburg over the span of 2 weeks. Now time for some packing…

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          Kenan Flagler Business School, where we as business students spend the majority of our time. (Photo credit: Businessweek)