When we were first assigned to blog our experience throughout this trip I wanted to document everything as accurately as possible. I did so, leaving little room for identifying the few key elements that would set apart and characterize the trip. It has been over a month now since we embarked on our journey and, while there is much rambling I could present, a condensed version of my long-winded yet short-lived observations is what should best be shared as it is of greater meaning. This is my summarization of our journey.
While we spent most of our trip in Zambia, South Africa did leave an impression on me. The most apparent thing upon arriving there was the beautiful scenery. Almost everything about the city is picturesque. There was certainly heavy European influence in what we saw during our approximately 3 days there. This goes to show the complexity of the African continent and how it cannot be classified with the limited information we are given about it. Asian and Indian influences are also not foreign to Africa, we learned. The cultural mix of man-made features in Cape Town, along with the natural mountainous features, made it gorgeous and a place many of us would like to return to.
While the views were excellent, we gained the most by the information that was presented to us. Our first presentation there was by Dr. Michael Power, a strategist for Investec of whom we were fortunate to meet with. He shifted our perspectives of Africa as a whole our second day there. He made it clear that there is much mutually beneficial opportunity available in the developing nations of Africa for students from highly developed nations. Things such as mediation between the nations or simply working abroad could go long ways into developing success for both parties. He also gave us insight about the development of the continent of Africa, “The Hopeless Continent”, as it was once provokingly named. The truth of the matter is that many African countries have an impressive amount of economic development already in practice with prospects depicting much more to come. In fact, there is nothing but hope in store for Africa and its continuously expanding nations.
The rest of the memorable parts of Cape Town consisted of more breathtaking views and incidents of reality. One in particular was our drive through a dense area of slums. The reality of it, present before me, was a bit dispiriting. It felt a bit invasive, to say the least. Here we were driving around these people’s quaint neighborhood with cameras in hand. It wasn’t until a man gave us the most genuine smile and cheerful wave that I felt welcome there. It made my day. It goes to show what I learned in a previous trip to Arkansas: happiness and fulfillment is present in any lifestyle, regardless how far it strays from our conventional beliefs.
In Zambia, we were privileged enough to visit quite a few great locations. This included the US Embassy, The Bank of Zambia, Zambian Parliament, Zambian Railways, Copperbelt University, Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, and Victoria Falls, to name a few.
The US Embassy allowed us to get a have a clear picture of what it is like for Americans to pursue international opportunities on behalf of the United States. Most of my international ambitions before this visitation were solely for career and business-related purposes. Now I think it would be wonderful to be able to have a career in which you are able to aid the development of countries filled with potential.
The Bank of Zambia had an excellent presentation for us. It was filled with lengthy discussions of Zambian macroeconomics, which may not appeal to those who aren’t a fan of the topic (luckily I am), but what I took from it was something more special. I realized, that day, how ambitious of a country Zambia is. Their economical pursuits were apparent and all was expressed with a hint of complete determination. Needless to say, I now have high expectations and am excited for the future of Zambia. Furthermore, the way they received us was with utmost hospitality. They offered us lunch and we gratefully accepted it.
The National Assembly of Zambia, or the Zambian Parliament, was interesting to witness. Unfortunately, it was difficult to fully understand but we were still able to learn about the way they meet to discuss important decisions to be made for their country. It was much more informal than I expected as there was a lot of joking throughout the meeting. Most of what I remember hearing was “thank you mister speaker”, which is what members would say before stating their case. Though I wasn’t able to obtain the full scoop on what important issues they were discussing, it is certainly something I will never forget witnessing. The setting was enough to allow comprehension of the culture and its unique form of dealing with significant matters.
Copperbelt University was one of my favorite places we visited. We met students in what they call the “American Corner”. It is room filled with American books, magazines, etc. that is used by students who are wanting to study abroad in the United States. Essentially, we were able to meet with other college students that we were able to make friends with. They asked us many questions about the US and the way universities work here. We happily answered and were able to establish many similarities and differences between our two nations. It was really just a laidback and casual experience that contrasted most of the locations we visited. We had a great time. It goes to show that we enjoy the simpler events of interacting with other students and helping guide them along the most. Another example of this was visiting with Dr. Musoma’s family and friends. They held a welcome dinner for us and their hospitality was unmatched. We were able to listen to and converse with such genuinely great people. That made for a pleasant evening for us.
Overall I enjoyed sharing this experience with such awesome people. I was able to get to know all of the Regents that I hadn’t known before. The trip wouldn’t have been half as fun without them. So thanks guys for making the trip much more enjoyable!
Furthermore, I would like to thank Phillips 66 for graciously sponsoring the trip. I am certain we are all highly appreciative and I hope we were able to capture what you envisioned. Thank you to Dean Strawser for allowing this incredible trip to take place and for being cooperative with Dr. Musoma’s wishes. It is very kind of you to do so. Thank you to Dr. Musoma for creating all of this for us. We can’t thank you enough! And thank you to Mrs. Musoma for joining us and keeping us in great company.
The short yet composite journey left a deep impression in all of us. It was something that is difficult to explain in a small number of words but we have each gained something special from it. I am certain that we will always remember the time we were able to form our own story of Africa.