As we drove through the entrance into the LEAP School, I first noticed the beautiful buildings that make up the school. As soon as we got off the bus, we were welcomed with open arms and beautiful smiles from the students there. I instantly felt at home and all the anticipation about what would happen diminished as I was suddenly immersed in happiness. We were guided into their community room where the rest of the students were waiting for us. I always thought our school was gifted in the music department, but they set the bar even higher. The school choir gave a jaw dropping performance of two African songs. The choir was one of the best school choirs that I’ve heard. It was heaven to the ears.
After the performance we were led to the bus where we journeyed to the nearby township, Langa. On the bus I sat next to a beautiful girl named Porsha (her English name) and we became fast friends. As we walked around the township Porsha told me about her life and her experience at school. She was so passionate about school and she explained how important an education was to her. Porsha said that she plans to attend a chemistry camp during an upcoming break. It made me realize that other people don’t have the same access to education and I appreciate amazing opportunities that I’m given.
In the township there were streets lined with shacks that people called their homes. It made me think how fortunate that every day I get to come home to a warm bed every night, and food on the table. I always thought that my problems were hard, but I didn’t even know how different my life could be. When we got back we started to dance with the students and just enjoyed being teenagers together. It didn’t matter that we were from different countries- we were all connected through song and dance. When we left I got emotional saying good-bye my new friends. I wish we all went to school together. Going to the LEAP School was an experience I’ll never forget; I learned how fortunate I am and not to take things for granted, but most importantly I created friendships that will always be dear to my heart.
Hopping over muddy puddles, dodging floating waste, and avoiding shards of glass, our class and LEAP School students walked through the community of Langa. Men poked their heads through the small, rustic windows as we passed by their one-roomed houses. Each little hut was alongside the other, some even bounded by cemented fences. I could sense the curiosity from the Langa community as we Americans strolled by their homes. Eventually we stopped by a soup kitchen, ran by a loud jolly woman with a welcoming smile. She and the LEAP School students served us a hearty meal – tripe, semp, and a loaf of bread. As we began to scarf down the food, a group of elderly ladies were sitting by the kitchen knitting long colorful, and detailed blankets. There was no way we were going to avoid performing a song for them! Shosholoza, our go-to hit song, was projected through the township. Children and teenagers began to peek their heads through the barbed wired fence while the elderly ladies shrieked with joy to our song. I felt comforted by our audience as they smiled and clapped throughout our performance.
After our tour through Langa, we reflected on our feelings about the township. One of the LEAP School students explained how she was embarrassed to show us the impoverished parts of Langa. She wanted to present us foreigners with full structured houses and properly paved roads. But as we continued our reflection we began to discuss the importance of experiencing the different areas, as opposed to dismissing them. OT, a friend of mine, had explained to me earlier that the township has its “ups and downs.” She told me that there is definitely a health problem and safety was an issue, however the community of Langa has much more to that. The township embodies the essence of Ubuntu. Every day they gather for potlucks and carry buckets of water from the communal tap to support each other with fresh water. The community works together, to provide assistance and wisdom for each other and the meaning of neighborly is taken to a whole other level. I witnessed Uxhumano (connection) throughout the township of Langa. Everyone unites together to create a safe and loving community.