Postcards from Around the Globe
Day 2: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Adam McFarland - Before I begin my personal reflection on the short lived, but interesting events of today, let me make one statement: It was absolutely nothing like I expected. As we arrived in South Africa, it seemed that the very ideas and scenic images I had created within my mind were destroyed almost immediately. The status of the airport, the look of the people, even the dialect differences that I enjoyed were not what I thought they would be. Upon arriving at the High Performance Center in Pretoria, I was in awe of the intricacies of this facility, dedicated solely to athlete development, training, and care. It was very, very, very nice with state of the art equipment around every corner. However, the men appeared to be mostly white and very large while the only black people were several athletes and staff. Clayton Lillienfeldt came to pick us up for dinner and took us to this random, but clearly culturally-unique, restaurant. There was one fact that seemed to boggle my mind: the clear and evident influences of black culture within the restaurant, but all-white rock bands performing to an all-white crowd of maybe 50 people. It was an experience in that the music was not much different from the numerous bands and small groups I experienced and formed with several of my friends back home in Louisiana.
Tremaine McGregor ’09 - My thoughts as we traveled were mostly centered on how strange it felt to be a visitor in another country. I saw different landscapes, experienced different scents (I smelled a lot of exhaust fumes, burning things), saw the economic disparity in the close proximity (poverty next to convenience stores, and mini-mansions just down the street), terminology (i.e. slaggate), and different versions of regular staples of U.S. (train stations, gas stations, car dealerships, etc.). It was a completely new experience, and I was just a sponge soaking it all in. Once we got to the High Performance Center, it was amazing. It was so well-designed and it was apparent that this place was a major center for attention and acclaim for the country. This is because of how polished and modern it looked. We saw professional rugby players perusing around the facility and even outside on the volleyball court. Then, we saw our rooms, the balconies, the restrooms, and the art, and knew that we were no longer in Kansas (as the saying goes). We also knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us and we were allowed an opportunity to rest in comfort and ponder our purpose for the remainder of our stay in this unique country.