Last thoughts as a foreign journalist

The sun sets on the Ray family's last night in Stellenbosch. Pictured are siblings Iain, Adrian, Evelyn and Audrey. Photo by Brian Ray

While living in Stellenbosch, South Africa, as a foreign journalist, I discovered that it is a lot different from Bay Village. The road I live on always had cars going down the street, and we walk everywhere. We walk to the grocery store, the ice cream shop, restaurants, and other shops. In Bay Village, we drive most places. There are people begging for food or money on every street we walk on. Some people come to our door asking for food. Security guards with guns stand outside grocery stores and banks. You don’t see that in Bay Village.

I’ve learned many people live in communities of shacks called informal settlements. In these settlements, there may be only one toilet and one shower for four shacks. The toilets are like port-a-potties. Some people who live in these settlements only use their money for basic needs and some don’t even have enough money for that. They cannot afford to buy things they want like new toys, new clothes, school supplies, candy or anything extra.

Cars are made smaller and shorter in South Africa. We had to buy a minivan but it’s a lot smaller than the ones back home. I have to sit in the back seat and always have to climb over the row of seats in front of me to get out! I will not miss doing that!

My biggest regret about the trip is not getting a chance to go to Johannesburg. It would have been cool to see where I lived when I was one year old and the places we visited. I wanted to meet some of the friends I met when I was one. The problem was that we ran out of time.

As I get ready to leave, there are many parts to South Africa that I will miss: the mountains, the ocean only 20 minutes away, different animals, walking around Stellenbosch, the culture and much, much more.

But there are also parts of South Africa that I won’t miss: the poverty, the mini minivan, and not being able to walk around the neighborhood by myself because it isn’t safe.

I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family. I know I wrote in January that I didn’t want to go and that our seven-month stay would last forever. My mom warned me that the seven months would fly by, and I think she was actually right. The months did fly by, and now part of me doesn’t want to go home! So mom please don’t say I told you so, because you were right!

I will miss South Africa a lot, but I want to go home too. I will see you back in Bay soon!

Audrey Ray is a soon-to-be sixth-grader at Bay Middle School.

Audrey Ray

Audrey Ray is a soon-to-be sixth-grader at Bay Middle School.

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Volume 5, Issue 16, Posted 9:29 AM, 08.06.2013