destinypowers


Destiny Ever After

Because college is a fairy tale


Last week with the little ones
destinypowers
Is it hard to believe that I have been in South Africa for seven weeks now; but then I look at my near-empty bank account and hairiness and think, “Yeah…seven weeks, that’s about right”. Just kidding, I have shaved. Once. But in all seriousness, it is going to be ridiculously hard to leave. I have had so many amazing experiences since being here.

For two days Last week Eric came to placement in childcare with me. Initially, it was so that he could meet my kids, and put faces to whom I was always talking about. The necessity of his presence though came when the teaching assistant walked out and quit on Tuesday. Although I still had Teacher Mary, she sometimes had things to do outside of the classroom, or on Thursday’s case, an hour and a half meeting with the principal. This would not have been a problem if it didn’t mean leaving Eric, and myself with 22 running, screaming, climbing, and all-around-verbing children. Well everything except listening; they do not like to waste their time on things like listening.

After Teacher Mary left, many of the children had to pee. This was a reasonable enough request, as everyone who knows Eric will know that he likes to go about the bathroom about every 12 minutes. So we decided to corral the children, and head to the toilets. Huge mistake. We all have the moment that we will look back on forever, and think, “Why was I so stupid? How could I have been such a fool?”. Yes, Eric and I were outsmarted by a class of three to four year olds, and you would have been too. They’re faster than they look, and there’s just so many. And so it begins: between our portable, outside classroom and the bathrooms is a playground. Now, as a three to four year-old child, would you go to the toilet, or the playground if you teacher left you with a sub? Probably the playground. As a 22 year-old that allegedly has a college degree, I too would go to the playground. And that’s with the real teacher. But back to our class; about half of the kids were on an active jailbreak, while the other half were standing and jumping on the tables in the classroom.

Eric and I have done the “stupidly cute” thing of finishing each other’s sentences, which isn’t hard, we’re usually thinking about food, or going on a walk that might end with food. Though, for the first time in our relationship, I believe we shared an actual conversation with just looks.

Me: “Umm. So this isn’t going as well as I thought it would.”
Eric: “I know. What do we do?”
Me: “I’m not entirely sure, but let’s keep trying to corral them, and take them in.”
Eric: [takes two children into class, three run out] “Yeah, this isn’t working. Umm Nik Naks?”

Luckily, one of the assistant teachers from another room saw us struggle to peel children off the swings to drag them into the classroom, and yelled at the children to get them all back in order. The South African accent really does the trick, as our polite American pleading of: “Please stop playing and come back in so we can learn, thank you”, just does not seem to work. I have heard from other volunteers that the teacher that so valiantly helped us disciplines her class by pretending to cut off their arms and legs with a real knife. Knowing this, there’s no way I would have listened to myself, and especially Eric. Eric was laughing the entire time. “Hey! Conrad! We’re going inside now! Hahaha”, all the while as he was making jailbreak jokes. But hey, we got them all back in, and most parents got their children back in one piece that day.

Although I am heartbroken to leave these crafty critters here, I am so happy that I was able to spend the last month and a half working with them. I could not have imagined a normal summer working at some normal internship. I have learned so much throughout my time at IU, in Freiburg, as well as here in South Africa. Although you may see children color what they think looks like a person, and later try and play in the toilet, these, and all children are incredibly smart. You think you’ve hidden the gummy candy? Think again, because they just somehow managed to get it off of the ten-foot shelf. I have been so blessed to have worked with these kiddos, and with such amazing folks this past month and a half. And now that my time in South Africa is coming to an end, part of me is absolutely terrified to go back home and attempt to find a job, but the other part of me that isn’t binge-eating Nik Naks is aware that I will do well at whatever I end up doing because of my experience here, as well as the support I have back home. And by support, I mean dad’s money, because I spent all my money on these smiling faces.

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Seriously, look how happy they are. You would have gone crazy in the school supply section of Checkers too.

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They're cute, and they know it. Eric and Donald, me and Doreen.

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I repeat, they are fast.

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Extremely fast.

Wrong Side of the Road Adventures
destinypowers
In the past week, I have had some amazing life adventures to add to the storybooks. As aforementioned in my last entry, Eric’s mom took us on an amazing safari. Not to brag, but Lady Gaga stayed at the same lodge a week or two before we did. So, it was kind of a big deal. Even better than being among the past presence of Lady Gage, at this lodge you were not allowed to walk around unescorted at night, because you could get eaten by a leopard, or a lion, or something more dangerous and apt than you. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?! It did get a bit lazy, as we would eat endlessly, with dessert after every meal, and unable to really walk anywhere… on account of lions and leopards. But with scenery, and people that are so amazing it is hard to get mad when you cannot exercise because you could get eaten by something so awesome.

When cruising around on our game drives, you would turn the corner, and there would be a giraffe standing, doing giraffe things, going about his giraffe life. In the words of Rachel Zoe, “I died”. I died. I died. I died. And we saw so many giraffes! I bet I saw 1,000. Really, about 20 different ones. Still, ridiculously amazing.

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Along with giraffes, we were also ridiculously close to lions. Oddly enough, we crept up on three males and one female while they were mating. Which is really just a lot of sitting around, and 30 seconds of "action". But hey, just because you don't do it that way, doesn't mean it's wrong. I chose to not take pictures of this, as you know, I do not particularly enjoy when people take pictures of me doing unspeakable things that we all do. But, some folks in the truck did get some action shots, which is fine, as hey, it got Kim Kardashian to where she is today.

lions

For those of you that know me well, you may see me around town sporting my leopard print. Now, I will do this with a stupid amount of pride, as I can now boast that I have seen five leopards in the wild. FIVE! And they were all doing cool leopard things like: walking around, hiding in the grass, napping in the tree, getting up to nap in another spot, among other leopard activities. And we saw a baby leopard. She was super adorable, but also probably super dangerous.

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We saw elephants up close, mamas, babies, and all. They are incredibly amazing animals. We also saw a plethora of hippos, which are the most dangerous animals in Africa. Turns out, they are also some of the funnier animals in Africa, as every sound they make sounds like a large belch or flatulence. Which on a similar note, I would not recommend standing down wind of an elephant, as much like their bodies, their farts are massive. While part of you will want to laugh, maybe teetering on impressed, they other part will be suppressing the urge to vomit.

ellies

Overall, spending time with Eric and his family on this trip was phenomenal. No dessert was left uneaten, and no animal was left unseen.

As for the most recent adventure, Eric, myself, and some friends that we have made volunteering went on a road trip this past weekend. Because when you and your partner have never rented a car before, it makes perfect sense to start in Africa, driving on the wrong side of the road. That being said, Eric is a wonderful driver, and got us everywhere safely.

We left Cape Town to head six hours away to do Face Adrenaline, one of the world’s largest bungee jumps. Because yes, in a house with 35 other people, and when you work at a crèche with 26 children, the only way to get peace and quiet is to tie a cord to your body and jump off a bridge. Seriously. I am not sure what other people experience after jumping, but my first thoughts, of course after, “Oh my God, you’re not dead, and you didn’t pee your pants, nice one Des”, were, “Oh my God, it’s so quiet!” It was an incredibly beautiful gorge to jump into, and even hang upside down for a bit. I would recommend it for those who need a bit of quiet in their lives.

We then went to Monkey Land, a monkey sanctuary in the area. It boasts about ten different species of monkeys, and they all come quite close to you when touring the park. Although it is not advised to touch a monkey, as they are wild creature, when one jumped, I almost got a face full of monkey. It was a pretty neat experience. After Monkey Land, we then went to an elephant sanctuary called Knynsa Elephant Sanctuary. Here you could pet, feed, and hug the elephants. They are incredibly smart animals, and it was truly amazing to be so close to them. Their skin is quite tough, and they have coarse, black hairs all over. And just like the television, and probably the internet told you: their trunks are ridiculously strong. Feeding them was amazing because of the strength and dexterity of their trunks.

With three weeks to go, I must treasure every moment spent with the little ones, as they teach me about happiness, hugs, and friendship, and I teach them about numbers, specifically those pesky 15-20. I do not think I can solve every problem in the lives of these children, but I can be continue the good work others have started, and help pave the way for those after me. I can treasure each hug, and enjoy each moment. I can also pack up all of these little angels and take them back home with me, because I was never that good at sharing, and I do not plan to start now.

Picture promised from last time: Doreen teaching me how to zip my zipper. Today we climbed the jungle-gym while she held on to me like a monkey. Super adorable, definitely on the steal list.

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A Ferrari Safari
destinypowers
On Thursday, I sadly had to say goodbye to my kiddos for a couple of days. Although I miss their smiling, snotty faces greatly, I’m never one to decline when Eric’s mom offers to take us somewhere.
The past week with the kids was wonderful, as they are sincerely always so happy, and it is usually quite contagious. On Thursday, we did our typical songs, and reviewed the days of the week, months and seasons of the year. Luckily, we have a song for all of these things, and the poor adults forced to spend time with me often hear them.

Overall, I am very overjoyed at Doreen’s progress. Doreen came to our class in my first week from Malawi. She and her twin brother are six, and thus a bit old for crèche, but remain with us, as they have already missed the enrollment for the school year, and could use the practice to learn English. They are incredibly clever, and have no problem reciting the days of the week, months and seasons of a year, and care basically counting pros. They are understanding more and more each day, and are communicating with the teachers very well. Doreen has a special place in my heart, because she is always smiling, playing, and trying to learn. She’s become such a good student that she has been able to teach me a few things. Below, you can see her teach me how to zip up my jacket.


[Picture to come]

The other children are of course, amazing, and I’m bringing all of them home with me. The only deal my parents made with me was that I should not get arrested while abroad, they said nothing about bringing home grandchildren. In fact, I know my dad would approve because they too share his love for racing. On Thursday, the class and I spent about 40 minutes on the playground, lining up to make “VROOOOOOOOMMMMMM” noises with me as I would push them down the slide. They natural born racers, and would make a great addition to the Powers clan. When these perfect angels are not smiling, or smearing snot on your pants, they are a great workout. They are a good source of cardio, upper body strength training, and a solid core/balance workout. Really, they’re a win-win. I am very lucky to be able to spend so much time with them, it’s just annoying that I have to share them with their actual parents. Speaking of which, although these children are not the most affluent, or at times fortunate, they have a loving, caring, and amazing support system. The entire community offers its help to care for one another, and you can feel the love and support when with them. I cannot wait to return on Wednesday.

As aforementioned, I have been gone since Friday. Early Friday morning, Eric and I left to join his mom, aunt, and cousin on an amazing safari adventure. So far it has been absolutely phenomenal. We have seen so many magnificent animals, and have had the great pleasure of some amazing company. We have seen: a couple giraffes a day, a whole elephant family, five leopards, warthogs, the Zazu bird off “Lion King”, hyenas, jackals, mongooses, African buffalo, hippos, rhinos, lions, crocodiles, and basically anything else that is really cool, and could probably kill you. I am very lucky to have found such an wonderful partner with such an amazing family to share the experience with.

It is sad to think that I am half way through my stay here. Although I miss my family at home greatly, it will be hard to leave such an amazing place with such amazing people. Especially since I have to get a job when I get home. I do not know what that is, but I know that I do not want it. Unless it pays in candy, then I’m listening.

Hello, how are you?
destinypowers
So, here I am in Africa, being awesome. I could end the post at that, but I feel as if I owe it to my readership (hi Mom, Aunt Wendy, Grandma, Nana and Ms. Lion) to actually post about my life here. I have had the great fortune of going on some amazing adventures this past week. But first, I would like to talk about my favoritest and bestest little people.

Personally, I love working with children and youth in general. Have you ever spent time with adults? We’re rude, forget what “fun” is, are obsessed with ourselves, and thus making ourselves look like what the people in the magazines. Often we as adults do not respect others as much as we should, if at all. And yet, all of my children know how to have fun, the basics and practice of respect (we’re still working on keeping your snot to yourself), and how to appreciate, and give thanks to how you have been blessed. Not to mention they do this all before 9:30 in the morning. What did you do today, fellow adult?

Everyday we sing songs, which if you know children, means we control their chaos by leading them in yelling by tune. We usually start off with:

Hello, how are you?
Hello, how are you?
Hello, how are you?
How are you today--?

It’s good to see:
Impressive-yea
It’s good to see:
Praise-yea
It’s good to see:
Lydia-yea
How are you today--?


Repeat, until we’ve done the entire class and teachers. Did you greet the first person you saw today, or did you do that thing where you pretend to look at something else instead of acknowledging the fellow human being near you? It’s ok if you did, I won’t act like I haven’t, but you won’t ever have enough Nik Naks or sweeties to get a kid to ignore your presence. They are always excited to see you.

Earlier I talked about respect, and since the first time I heard my kids sing this song, I was blown away.

It’s my body
It’s my body
It’s my body
It’s mine

When I say ‘no’ [move your arms to say no]
Don’t touch me
When I say ‘no’ [move your arms to say no]
Don’t touch me

Repeat


This song is usually followed immediately by:

I am special
I am special
So are you [point to a friend]
So are you [point to a friend]

Very very special
Very very special
So are you [point to a friend]
So are you [point to a friend]


It is hard to put into words how impressed I was that these children were singing a song, and understanding what it was to respect your body, as well as the bodies of others, and to truly understand consent, even if they do not have a word for it yet. If we as adults understood consent and respect for others, especially their bodies… well, I would basically be unemployable forever, and I would be quite happy with that. Yes, these kids sometimes hit each other, and have issues fighting, but at four, it is hard to understand that an appropriate response to taking away a toy is not to hit another classmate; especially if you are seeing this behavior by other adults in the community and at home. Minutes ago, Eric asked to try my cake and took a pretty large “taste”, swiping away at least 1/6 of my icing. I kind of wanted to jab him with my fork, but age, and a smidgeon of emotional processing and understanding led to me just take a sizeable “taste” of his cake, and approximately 1/5 of his icing. That will be the last time he takes that much icing away from me.

Ridiculous adult banter aside, these kids are smart, your kids are smart, and the kids that are outside and annoying you are smart. They are all good, perfect, snotty little children. They understand and practice consent and respect better than most adults I know, and greet every moment and situation with a smiling face. Which once again, is more than most adults I know. They share whatever they have with you, they do not waste their time complaining, and they are so gracious for the day they have been given. Yes, they are incredibly tiring, and at times, impressively loud. But, these little goobers might know more about how to be a good and respectful human being than I do, and I thought I got a degree in something similar. Oh well, I guess there’s always the ice cream field to fall back on.

Oh yeah, I also went shark cage diving and on a couple of game drives this weekend. Saw penguins, giraffes, sharks, lions, and really anything else that can kill you, or that you would want to snuggle. It was a pretty amazing week overall.

Shout out to my little brother Tyler, he is getting surgery today for his broken collarbone. If this is anything like that time he basically broke his elbow off, he’ll be good, and will just have a couple of cool scars. Keep up the good work little brother, just work on the falling less part. Just kidding. Not really. Love you!

And since all my North American loved one's are starting their day, or taking a lunch, hello, how are you, how are you today?

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The little ones, practicing loving friendship

Adventures in Africa thus far
destinypowers
Sorry for the delay in posting. You have to go to an internet café to get a connection, and every time I go, I just end up eating cake and drinking tea. Sorry friends!

One week into Africa, and it’s probably likely that I will never come home. Everyday I am greeted with the most beautiful, snotty, smiling faces and hugs. It’s not a bad way to greet 8:00 am. My volunteer placement is with the Sunrise Educare Centre in the Capricorn Township. A township is what most of us back home might refer to as a “Shantytown”, or even shacks. Despite the gross poverty that envelops the townships, these kids are still incredibly happy. They pray before every meal, and give thanks for the things they have. Today we were reminiscing on why each one of us are blessed, and there were no shortages of answers. Seeing how happy they can be with literally nothing is a truly humbling experience. These children are the greatest thing, and I hope to smuggle at least 10 back into the States. If some of you could send some more luggage to make this possible, that would be great.

Last Thursday, one of my buddies was sent home from the center. This was quite sad and strange to me, as not only would he be missing out on his education for the day, but also two hot meals and fruit. I later asked the main teacher, Teacher Mary, why he was sent home. She informed me that his parents had not paid his 200 Rand for the month ($20). A child was literally sent home from school because of his parents inability to pay the equivalent of about $20, or for some of my friends back in Bloomington, a $3 Thursday. The next day I brought in R200 for the child, and paid the principal, and she promised she would phone his parents, informing them that they could bring him back to school immediately. She also printed me off their monthly budget, and explained to me that each month they run out of money, despite their government endowment. When they run out of money, and are forced to send home children that cannot pay because there is hardly enough money to feed all of the children; even though this food is often the only time they will eat. It is a truly humbling experience, and I am honored that I can be called “Teacha Desiny”, and to help educate these children.

In other adventures, we hiked up the Muizenberg mountain to watch the sunrise on Sunday morning. It is such a blessing to have two feet and a heart beat, and we took full advantage of this on our trek. Although some might say we “got lost”, or “took the wrong path”, we like to refer to it as “trailblazing”, and/or “adventuring”. We were told of a 45-minute path, but we took the hour and a half, back tracking, rock climbing, cooler route. This ended well for us, as we were able to sit upon an amazing boulder that jutted off just below the top that allowed us to see the entire town and ocean. The hiking definitely helped burn off our delicious Friday market food.

Overall, there is a slight chance that I am not coming back home. Especially since Eric and I have located a couple of “vicious” guard dogs that give great hugs over their fences, and will happily eat any leftover Nik Naks (cheap Cheetos); not that leftover Nik Naks happens often.

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Impressive and Angelique playing in the tire tower we built

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Conrad, Praise, Lydia, and Sandra sitting on the bus, on our way back from our field trip to the BMV to learn how to cross roads.

In Memory of the Great Grandma Betty
destinypowers
As previously mentioned, I would not be able to be in Cape Town, or have had any of my wonderful travels if it were not for the endless love and support of my family. This post in particular will focus on the most impactful family member I could ever have wished for as a little zygote. Sadly after 87 amazing and loving years, my great-grandmother (yes ‘great’, we Powers’ live forever) has ended her journey on Earth. I will be as eternally grateful for her in my life, as much as I will cherish my last memory with her.

Betty Powers was an extraordinary human being. She was an amazing grandmother to my dad and uncle, and was a phenomenal, spoiling, get-out-of-jail-free-card, super-bestest thing that ever happened to Tyler and I. Never did a full week of our childhood pass that she was not helping out our parents by either coming down to Indianapolis, or better yet, carting us up to Muncie. She would take us to once again travel the great tunnels and ball pits of Escapades, while later showering us with the finest toys K-mart could sell. We would go to Mac’s in the mornings, eat buttered ham salad sandwiches for dinner, have at least ten fundgesicles for a “snack”, and the proceed to eat whatever our hearts desired for supper; which I’m pretty sure was candy. Although she would try and trick us into going to bed at 8:30, we would make it for another hour before we retired to bed, and then ridiculous storytelling.

Although Grandma Betty would spoil us often, she was truly one of the most impactful adults in my life. My parents, aunts and uncles, teachers, and most other adults served wonderful purposes in my life; but there’s just nothing that can come close to the true and unadulterated love of a grandparent. She taught us to never hate; be it people, food, and especially a sibling. She taught us to always be loving towards others, to be kind, and to be grateful for what you have; which was easy, because with grandma you have everything.

I will always be grateful for having grandma Betty in my life for 22 (and a half) blessed years. Never again will I have someone be so absolutely loving towards me, but I can give that to others, and I know that is what she would have wanted. My last memories of her were from a week ago when I was reminding her that I was leaving for Africa. Although she mentioned numerous times, “What are you going to do there? I just can’t feature someone going to Africa.”, she was still quite excited for me. My last moments with her were happy, loving, gracious for the health she had, and complaint-free, which is what we should all probably strive more towards. At times we may refuse to admit it, but we all have so many good things going for us.

I will truly miss Grandma Betty, but I know she is on to bigger and better things, lending her warm heart to our other loved ones that are no longer with us. And I know that just because she is not physically here, does not mean that she cannot still be with us.

P.S. I’d be willing to hit PAUSE on the vegetarian train if someone could ship like a pound of ham salad and fudgesicles to me so that I could be sad, while also comforting myself. Real thoughts and pictures of Cape Town to come, it’s been great so far. Don’t worry about me, there are lots of snotty hugs and kisses waiting for me in the morning.

Off to Africa!
destinypowers
I cannot believe that this day has finally come. For months I have been telling people of my plans to volunteer in South Africa... and it is finally here. For those who do not know: Eric and I are leaving for Cape Town, South Africa today to spend the next seven weeks volunteering with IVHQ. He will be doing sports development, and I will be working in childcare. We will be living among other volunteers, and immersing ourselves in the community to better the world we live in.

We have our stuff packed, the GOT books, and are ready to go.

As most of you know, about a year and a half ago I said goodbye to my family and friends and left for five months in Germany. Now, ten months later, I am leaving again. Without the unwavering support and love from my parents, I would not be able to have these wonderful life journeys. I am so grateful and blessed to have had such wonderful parents guide me to become pretty awesome individual I am today. Also, the money helps. It definitely helps. One could say that it actually made some of these adventures happen.

Over the next seven weeks, I would like to blog about my experiences in Africa. As I leave for this marvelous adventure, I hope to share it with you all; as you all can only benefit from my at times embarrassing behavior if I publicize it on the interwebs. I look forward to embarking on this mission with my amazing partner. Our goal of this trip is to help better our world community, partake in awesome adventuring, and to return back to our adult lives in Chicago. We are aiming for 100%, but two out of three would be ok too :)

Things I don't want to talk about
destinypowers
As a college senior, and someone budding into adulthood, there are things I do not want to talk about. I will not be angry (well, nothing too obvious) if you ask me these things, but I promise I will go home and complain to my partner, or my roommates.

1. What are you doing after college? Umm, maintaining some solid homeostasis, long distance running, and pretending to get a job, while actually making messes at my dad's house.

2. So if you're a vegetarian, what do you eat? Clearance Easter candy and six packs of chocolate milk like everyone else.

3. What's your tattoo say? It's actually just my signature over, and over. 'Cause I'm that good.

4. So are you like engaged? Does it look like my blender is broken? No. We'll call you when it is.

5. So...why do you say partner if Eric's a guy? To confuse you.

6. So you run? How fast? Somewhere between a squirrel and a snake.

7. So What are you doing after college? Seriously. Stop. Asking.

8. So it must be hard being in a long distance relationship. That's not a question. And no it's not. Well it kind of is. But we're in the same country again, so party on.

9. Sooo...how do you get enough protein? Do you know anything about food, fool?

10. So are you one of those bikers who weaves through traffic and doesn't listen to traffic signs? Yes. Deal with it.

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