Which of today’s events stands out most for you and why?
My favorite part about today was going to the safari and learning about the animals. I learned about how poachers are finding new ways to hunt rhino and elephant for their horns and tusks. I learned about how poachers are using technology to improve their poaching, such as drones to scout out how many rhino there are on the reserve. Another thing I learned about is how the drought is affecting the lives of these animals. Because of the drought, the park has had to change the diet of certain animals because their usual food is no longer in abundance.
Another thing I liked about today was being able to speak to Lionel Davis. His story was amazing. He was imprisoned for 7 years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, then was on house arrest for 5 more years. His story has made me realize that Robben Island was truly the first integrated community in South Africa. The reason being is that the prison guards were being told stereotypes of the prisoners for as long as they could remember, so they believed in those stereotypes. As they spent time with the prisoners, the guards saw that everything they had been told was a lie. The successful integration of Robben Island is what, in my opinion, helped rid South Africa of Apartheid.
My favorite experience from today was the safari. I really enjoyed seeing the animals here in South Africa. I definitely gained knowledge in regards to understanding the illegal poaching. It put things into perspective about how endangered the rhinos are. My favorite animal to learn about was the elephant. The animals are so big, yet gracious It was very neat to see them in the wild. I also enjoyed the scenery being out in the “bush”. It was a different perspective than what we have been seeing earlier in the trip. It was nice to be outside.
Today was a good day for firsts. I saw some African animals in person that I’ve always wanted to witness: elephants, springbok, eland, gnu (a.k.a. water buffalo), giraffes, white rhinos, rock spring things, hippos, and such. The tour guide had a plethora of fantastic info to share regarding the animals, and I learned a tremendous amount. One of the most impressive bits of information we received today regarding the animals was the fact that elephants can communicate up to 600km away. I also thought it was very interesting that the guards are told to “shoot to kill” poachers.
As for the chat with Lionel Davis, I thought it was very interesting and beneficial to hear of his perspective on living on Robben Island and being a prisoner there at the same time as Mandela. I appreciated his candidness when he said that it wasn’t just Mandela that lead the prisoners to achieve great change, but there were many individuals and intelligent leaders that helped to educate the people within the prison and forge the bonds of friendship through knowledge. I also appreciated the fact that Lionel was not afraid to discuss his feelings and animosities for that situation, as well as what he had to do to heal. He was obviously a very educated person and I respect the fact that when it came to the level of enlightenment, he exemplifies towards healing, being kind, not holding grudges, etc. It was all self-discovered and taught. He did not ascertain his insights by reading about similar things in a book, he discovered it all while being hopeful and happy and using his art as an outlet to heal.
There have been many amazing experiences today but there is one that stood out to me. For me, listening to Lionel’s presentation was fascinating because it wasn’t sugar coated and though it was a similar story of prison experience, it was still different and unique. Also, I really enjoyed this because he was very interactive and was not just a presenter presenting, but we were able to ask questions. I feel that as a speaker, he gave a lot of insight to better understand Apartheid and his imprisonment.
One thing that stood out from this experience was how he talked about Mandela as not the sole person who made South Africa the way it is today, but that there are a lot of other people who made a difference, and little people also contributed to the cause. I really like his answer to my question about combating apathy and any advice to me as an activist. He said that change does not happen over small periods of time and that it takes many people. More importantly, change starts from within and recognizing that we need to change as well.
The part that has stood out the most to me today was having the opportunity to talk to Lionel Davis. He had a whole different perspective and coming into it, I was expecting it to be a similar to Christo’s talk. Lionel was able to give an up-close and personal experience that he had with Nelson Mandela. He was also able to go into detail on what it was like going to prison. Overall, my favorite part about talking to him was that he has 81 years of experience under his belt.
The part of today that stood out to me the most would have to be the safari at Aquila game reserve. I have a passion for wildlife and conservation and game reserves are great tools of conservation. I never really thought I would have the chance to see wild African animals. My favorite animals that we saw today were the elephants, rhinos, hippos and the cliff-springers. The safari was very educational and informative and reminded me why I am pursuing wildlife conservation as a career.