The Tar Heel Travelers series is back! Throughout the summer, Carolina student-athletes will give GoHeels.com readers a glimpse at their travels and/or internships. First up is Paige Neuenfeldt, a rising senior on the UNC volleyball team. Neuenfeldt, a business administration major, is just back from South Africa, where she traveled as part of a Kenan-Flagler Business School program.
Hello Tar Heel community!
My name is Paige Neuenfeldt and I am a rising senior on the volleyball team. I recently got back from the beautiful country of South Africa after completing a two week Global Immersion Elective (GIE) with the Kenan-Flagler Business School. The GIE includes five pre-departure classroom sessions before taking off, where we learned about South Africa’s history, culture, and business/economy through a variety of guest speakers and videos. In these sessions I met the 31 other students—then strangers—who I would eventually get to know very well over the course of the trip. We departed for Johannesburg May 10th and made our way to Cape Town until May 24th. The two week trip was the perfect study abroad option for me, a fall sport student-athlete who needs to be training all summer but also wanted the study abroad experience more than anything. I highly recommend this option for any student-athletes with desires to travel the world and learn in a way they never thought possible!
The typical day of a GIE involved waking up around 7:30 am and fighting some serious jet lag during breakfast. We would make our way in our business attire to a unique company and take a tour or would listen to a guest lecturer who had a unique opinion on South Africa’s economy, social status after apartheid, or social entrepreneurship. We would then take a brief lunch—sometimes together, sometimes on our own—and then reconvene for another intellectual event in the afternoon. Dinner on the waterfront was next on the agenda and always one of my favorite times! The food was fantastic and I even tried a lot of seafood and game meats—way out of my comfort zone! I was floored how much I learned in such a short amount of time, especially from the power of conversation.
And, of course we made some time for sightseeing and fun! I can’t count the number of gorgeous sunrises and sunsets I saw, painting the sky colors I didn’t even know existed. Cape Town is by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and also offers some unbelievable activities. To name a few of my favorites:
· Great White shark cage diving with a group of my classmates—we woke up at 5:45 am and drove to Ghansbi. It was the absolute coolest/most terrifying thing I have ever done in my entire life!
· Safari rides at Inverdoorn Game Safari—we piled into three buggies and went on a bumpy ride across an African safari plains to see elephants, zebras, springbok, rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos, and more. I have never been so close to a wild animal like this before!
· Visited Mfuleni Township with Mark Gamble and worked selling second-hand coats and SIM cards to locals. It was an unbelievable experience getting to see the township life and what the market people go through while learning some of the language to communicate!
· Road trip down to Cape Point with stops at the Hout Bay weekend market place, the Cape of Good Hope, and Boulder Beach to see the penguins. If I could eat every day at the market place, I would—best. food. ever.
That is just a snap shot of my fun-filled, packed two weeks in South Africa. I am so grateful for the opportunity to go and will remember this forever as well as apply skills I learned to my final year of volleyball. I learned to push my limits while in the shark cage—I was scared to death but after making the leap of faith into the cage I was proud of myself for facing my fear and was rewarded with the experience of a lifetime. I will take my newfound confidence in scary situations to the volleyball court and will attempt to not be frazzled when new/unusual things happen.
I also want to bottle up the passion of the South Africans and bring it back with me to be a reminder to always follow my heart. Every single person I was blessed to have talked with on this trip was beyond passionate about their cause and making Africa a better place. They all loved what they did and went after it with every ounce of determination they had, and I think that’s something people in the U.S. forget about sometimes. I will strive to live like those people every day and share my passion for volleyball with my teammates, coaches, and the Tar Heel community as well.
Thanks so much for reading my edition of the travelers’ blog!
As always, it’s a great day to be a Tar Heel! Go do what you love!