Nia Warren’s final post from South Africa

My last couple of weeks were very busy! I mainly focused on spending as much time with Jacqui and my new friends as much possible before I left. My last weekend staying at Jacqui’s house was spent so perfectly. We got up at 5:00 am, drove out to the Koppies (flat, rock formations similar to mountains) and hiked to the tallest one. We watched the sunrise from the top and had breakfast. Later that weekend, her and her dad decided to surprise me and take me on a helicopter ride across the “bush” (South African Savannah). It was my first ride in the helicopter, and I got to get a bird’s eye view of all the animals that they had on their lodge. I also had pap for what would be the last time.

The last week of school went by extremely fast, and before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to every grade besides grade ten. It was overwhelming to know that I wouldn’t be seeing these kids all at the same time ever again. One of the hardest people to say goodbye to was Reneilwe. Her and I were inseparable on my stay and practically became sisters. We promised to visit each other and then I was off. Lucky for me, I would get to spend one more week with Grade 10. I spent the first few days at the Getaway Show, where I got to represent Stanford Lake College at a huge adventure fair and talk to prospective applicants about how I saw Stanford as an exchange. I was really grateful to have a chance to give back after all the great experiences that I had at Stanford.

Then I headed off to the Grade 10 Tour with the entire grade. We got to spend an entire week touring Johannesburg by day and enjoying fun activities and meals at a really nice camp. I was really lucky to be able to share so many moments with my classmates on the last week of exchange. We got to go to the tallest building in Johannesburg, visit SABC studios, visit the Apartheid Museum, ride rides at Gold Reef City, and visit Mandela’s old jail cell and home. I learned so much about what makes up South Africa’s history and the different perspectives on it. Johannesburg had been one of the cities that I had gone in and out of without having a chance to actually spend time in it, so this tour was a nice treat for me. As a class we played sports, and team activities, and by the end of the week I had bonded with so many people. The last night of the tour, also the day before my flight, the camp hosted a bonfire for all the students. The next morning I said my farewells and cried some more. I knew I would really miss Stanford, but I had so many memories and pictures to hold on to.

I spent my last couple hours with Jacqui and her family going out for a nice breakfast. We ate, talked about all the memories that I made in South Africa, and even started discussing how I was going to come back within a couple of years. All I could think about was how excited I was to have Jacqui come stay at my house in the fall and how much I wanted to repay her for one of the best summers that I would ever have in my life. Thank you so much to Athenian, the Knott Family, and Round Square for giving me everything I could have ever wanted on exchange and more!