IMBA JoBurg Residency: Halfway Mark
The Intercontinental MBA students are ending their third week in Johannesburg. They have just left for a long weekend in Cape Town and after weeks of non-stop frenetic activity, I am remaining in JoBurg with a yawning gap of four days of quiet and productive time ahead. As I reflect on the past three weeks, I am struck by the resilience, adaptability and bravery of these lively and talented young people. They left their family, friends and the security of their daily regimes to travel 9,000 miles to a strange city. In the short span of three weeks they have formed a caring community of friends who study and relax together, while remaining attentive to each others’ safety. They motivate each other when academic burdens seem overwhelming and support each other during occasional bouts of homesickness.
We have been here long enough to carefully and slowly stretch the boundaries of our cultural bubble. Without a doubt, we appreciate the dramatically different setting that has become a new normal. We reside behind electrified fences, jangle a set of keys to always-locked doors, and know our overnight guard by name. Students venture out in threes and are sure to check on each other when a group is delayed. On the positive side, the confines of our guesthouse have become a cozy home away from home. The communal kitchen smells of popcorn, curried chicken and spaghetti sauce from shared snacks and meals. Restaurants with a variety of ethnic cuisines clustered a block away serve delicious and generous meals accompanied by South African wines for under $20. We have experienced enough to be acutely aware of the blessed lives that we have been dealt and that the “global economy” has a human face which is lined with smile wrinkles and the worries of struggle.
The students’ long weekend in Cape Town will include trips to Robins Island, a winery and several other adventures. The details are best left to their own telling. I look forward to hearing their tales and resuming our busy academic and social calendar on Tuesday. Meanwhile, I will minister to my inner introvert and enjoy a quiet weekend in JoBurg.