From California to South Africa

Authored by:
Ashlee M.

As a first-generation college student, I would have never imagined that I would be in a master's program, let alone studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. I have never been on a plane longer than four hours and I was on a plane for 24 hours heading out of the country for the first time. I still can’t believe how powerful and enlightening this trip was for me, I am still in shock. Being at Table Mountain, really made me realize how rich life can be if you face your fears and keep reaching your goals even if the odds are against you. I am beyond grateful for Andi, CIEE, and my university for this experience of a lifetime.

Coming from California, I felt like I have experienced conversing with diverse communities but oh was I wrong! Meeting different parts of the South African community through this trip has taught me that diversity is way deeper than different racial groups living in the same space. It’s about understanding the multiple cultures, traditions, and identities that South Africa holds both within these groups and as a whole. For example, one of the cultures that my group and I got to experience was the Black South African Deaf community. As a person holding a Deaf Studies degree, I am very interested in the intersectionality of Deaf communities as a way to bring awareness to their diversity. So, being able to learn some South African sign language, meet different organizations such as eDeaf and DeafSA, including Deaf students in a whole new country was so impactful for me. This trip and those organic moments made me realize how important it is for me to stay working in the field of Deaf studies and to expand knowledge for my Black community (including ALL identities/nationalities within it). 


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