Goodbye, South Africa
The Intercontinental MBA Students are packed and boarding planes for their homes in the U.S. As I wrote a program evaluation form, I was stunned by the long list of activities and experiences we have had in South Africa during the past five weeks. These are full time MBA students, so they were taking four graduate business courses. I taught Marketing Management and three local professors taught Finance, Organizational Behavior and Macroeconomics. Although the students did not realize it and perhaps were a bit jarred by the methods and demands of the local professors, they were being exposed to the method of university education that is predominates the globe. I am convinced they will be relieved to be back to the familiarity of an American-style classroom on Monday.
We took some weekend excursions out of Johannesburg– one weekend to the Pilensburg Animal Reserve and another to Cape Town. On weekdays our days were busy with class, visits to our respective service organizations and corporate visits. Evenings were filled with social and sports activities and study. A list of some of our activities includes the Apartheid Museum, three nights at two different theaters, attendance at Rugby, Cricket and Soccer matches, and two evening speakers. Daytime activities included a trip to the capital of Pretoria where we met with a member of the governmental planning commission, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank and members of the U.S. State Department at the American Embassy. In a previous blog I described our time in Soweto.
To fit all of this into five weeks, I think it is instructive to consider what we did not do. We did not cook or do grocery shopping (well, we did a bit, but not tied to necessity), do laundry, clean our rooms, make or change our beds, commute, sort through mail, watch television or follow sports, politics or world news in any detail. There were no haircuts, manis or pedis, massages or facials. Several students indicated they missed college and professional football, but we always checked the final scores and not hanging onto every play was a big time saver. We did “hang out with friends,” but these friends were the small group in our cohort and a few new local friends.
The final days were full of “lasts.” We had our last English breakfast at Jakes, our last seafood curry at Poppies, our last sips (or swigs) or local South African beer and wine, our last Appletizer. We packed up and struggled to fit that last bit of souvenir shopping into our bulging suitcases. We said last goodbyes to our new South African friends. We took one last look at the purple blooms on the jacaranda trees and the bustling shops on 7th Street. We looked one last time at the dense, but hilly and tree-laden city from the panoramic hilltop location of the Jesuit Institute of South Africa. We said goodbye to this developing country, knowing that we will all return, most likely with family and friends. We look forward to reliving some of our memories and creating new ones.