Summer in South Africa
On my first day back after summer vacation, my elementary school teachers usually required us to write a one-page essay about what we had done during our 12 weeks of freedom. I would dread the first day of school, because I knew we would be required to complete this mundane assignment.
This year, though, I willingly write about my summer adventures. I volunteered for almost 8 weeks as a librarian at South African Wildlife College. The college is located right inside Kruger National Park, and has students from all over Africa. The students are older (25-55 years old), and already work in some capacity in a national park in their country—in tourism management, as an environmental education, as a field ranger, etc. They were tapped by their managers to attend the college so that they may take classes and earn more certificates, and in turn can be promoted at their work place. Thus, the students are motivated and have a high work ethic.
My responsibilities included the usual librarian tasks: cataloging and processing books, checking books in and out, getting books back on the shelves, changing the bulletin boards, and helping students in the computer lab. I also held English tutoring sessions, so the students could practice their language skills.
I was lucky enough to be able to join the students when they went on field trips. Some of the things I got to do: join a village celebration when they opened the 2 new classrooms and 6 new toilets for the school; drive deep into Kruger National Park; visit the Elephant Museum; participate in some Environmental Education classes in Kruger National Park; attend an African dancing and drumming celebration; go out on game drives to look for the Big Six, even at night; go out on morning walks at dawn to learn about tracking animals.
One of the reasons I went to South Africa was to see animals, but what made the trip was the people. South Africans are soft-spoken, kind, and gentle.
Every aspect of my time in South Africa was amazing. Some days, I felt like I was the luckiest person in the world, and that life couldn’t get any better.
Anja Tigges, Ed.S.
Atlanta Public Schools