I have had the privilege to visit a few countries outside of Lesotho and South Africa, and this page tells short stories of my times away from home.
My visit to London was a result of a 13-hour layover on the way home from Boston. I was excited to finally see London, so once I learned of the long layover, I organised a visa to make the visit possible. I took the Heathrow Express Train out of London Heathrow Airport (operates like the Gauteng Gautrain), and then took the Big Bus City Tour. It was rainy but I had a good time nonetheless. I enjoyed the commentary on the tour bus - the detailed information on the history of London and the UK as the bus drove around the city. London has interesting history, and great museums. I didn't have time to get into any of the museums due to long queues and the limited time I had, so I definitely owe London another visit, for the museums :-). In the pictures: on the left, I had to get a picture of one of the famous traditional British red telephone boxes! I was glad to see that there is still quite a good number of them on the streets of London. On the right - me, close to the London Tower Bridge. At that point, I got onto a ferry across The River Thames and, on board, learned so much more about the bridges that cross the river and the history around the construction of each. London to me: a childhood dream come true.
I was in Boston for the #DigitallyConnected Symposium on children, youth and digital media; co-hosted by UNICEF and The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The symposium gathered more than 150 participants from diverse academic, practice, and geographic backgrounds for an engaging three days that turned out to be an unforgettable learning and networking experience. In the pictures: on the left, I gave a kick-off talk in a moderated roundtable on 'Incorporating Technology in Formal and Informal Learning Settings.' I spoke of the need for locally relevant educational games and multimedia for children and young people growing up in rural Africa, of the need to get teachers involved as co-creators and co-designers of the technologies being developed for use in the classroom, and finally, of the need to focus on equipping local (in-village) authorities with technologies to independently create culturally appropriate multimedia content to educate and train young people (giving an example of our health content creator's use in a driving school in Maseru). On the right - we were at the Top Of The Hub, a restaurant located on the 52nd floor of the Boston Prudential Tower. The restaurant has the most spectacular views of the city of Boston. In the picture with me are some of the fellow Africans that I met at the Symposium. I guess what made the experience even more special to me was meeting and connecting with several young African men and women who work in the Women in Technology, Technology Innovation, and Technology Education spaces, whom I have followed and respected for a long time, and whose work has inspired mine over the years. When I left Boston, I was challenged to get things done, in research, leadership, service and teaching. I knew, when I left Boston, that I had to 'woman up' and get things done - big things.
I was in Lagos for a week in November 2013, attending the IPPC, a church conference. The IPPC is an international meeting and I was invited as a result of my service as a translator of the Rhapsody of Realities (ROR). The ROR is a devotional (coming in text and audio), that my church distributes around the world, and uses volunteers like myself to translate the material into local languages. I translate the ROR from English into Sesotho on a monthly basis, and have been a translator since June 2010. I value the opportunity to make the materials available to non-English-speaking Basotho in Lesotho and South Africa, but I am also grateful that I actively write in the original Sesotho language, I don't get many other opportunities to write in Sesotho. In the pictures, I am with some of the translators I met at the conference, from Uganda (L), and South Sudan(R). One word that sums up the Nigeria/IPPC experience: impact
I was in Singapore for only 24 hours on the way back from Malaysia. I extended my layover to enable me to visit a friend who lives in Singapore. The one day I was there, it rained heavily :(, and we couldn't do much, except to move around the city(the country :)) on a bus. One thing: Singapore is very beautiful, and very developed. And oh, Changi International Airport is by far the most beautiful airport I have ever been to! In the pictures: me at Changi International Airport (L), and of course, enjoying the Asian cuisine(R)! Keyword for Singapore: beautiful. When I left Singapore, I was grateful for friendship.
I was in KL for the Women Deliver Conference. I stayed at the Royal Chulan Hotel, super elegant hotel, I had to mention that :-P. My friend Laone and I moved around a lot to see the city, and I got to do some shopping for my MSc graduation which was holding the following week. KL has seriously massive malls - we went to the likes of Berjaya Times Square, Lot 10, Sungei Wang Plaza, etc. Also worth mentioning, I had really interesting conversations with some of the local people, especially cab drivers. In the pictures: Petronas Twin towers, the tallest twin buildings in the world, a landmark in KL; me and the Malaysian friends I made at Lot 10! Major feeling as I left KL: gratitude.
In March 2013, I was in Orlando, Florida for IETF 86. Orlando is sometimes referred to as the roller coaster capital of the world. It is! I got to Orlando a few days before the meeting, so I got to go to Walt Disney World (awesome!) and Universal Studios. At Disney World, I visited Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. Later in the week, IETF took us to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where I rode the most fierce roller coasters ever! My best ride there: the Dragon Challenge. If you are from Cape Town and have been on the Cobra at Ratanga Junction, this ride spins and turns 10 times more than the Cobra! Just awesome! I also enjoyed the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride...Unforgettable experience! The roller coaster madness was followed by very serious talks in the week, talks that left me challenged to learn outside my comfort zone, to be more open to discovering new things beyond what I have defined as my 'career path'. In the pictures: Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom; me and Mickey Mouse :) at Animal Kingdom. How I felt when I left Orlando: challenged.
Well, my trip to India was awesome! I was in Bangalore for ACM DEV 2013, and I enjoyed interacting with the ICT4D practitioners from India. A lot of exciting work is happening in India. I got to meet one of my friends from home, he took me around town, awesome! My conference mentor and her husband also took us to a great place where we got to taste different southern and northern Indian dishes. Point: I love Indian food! Ok, people in India are really really nice, and unique in so many ways! I really enjoyed learning the many different aspects of the Indian culture, and honestly, I feel like I want to go back to India. I loved it! In the pictures: me at the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Bangalore; me riding the Auto-Rickshaw, the 3-wheeled vehicle which is the most common mode of transport in urban India. One word for Bangalore: incredible! lol, no, actually, the word is: 'interesting'.
When I think of Pittsburgh, I remember flying into the city and seeing the many autumn-coloured trees (red, orange, yellow, fading green), the beauty of what they call Fall in the US. Driving in from the airport, I fell in love with the bridges, so many bridges...then as I stayed, I was amazed by the people: people are really nice in Pittsburgh, really nice! Well, I was there for the One Young World Summit: the only gathering in the world where you will find young passionate leaders from almost every nation in the world...The diversity of the delegates, the power of the counsellors... One Young World did something in me that I won't forget for a long time! Well, I met a friend from home there, she took me shopping! This was my first time to the Burlington Coat Factory :) I thought my stay in Pittsburgh was too short. I loved it! In the pictures: the beautiful Pittsburgh; and me on a boat ride across the Allegheny River of Pittsburgh. When I left Pittsburgh, I was: invigorated!
Baltimore! Whew! Baltimore was busy, fun, inspiring...all of it! I was at Baltimore for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the conference where I collected the greatest number of business cards, the conference where I made the most friends, and of course, the conference with the best swag eeeever :) Baltimore reminded me a lot of Cape Town, not sure why.. it could be the serenity of the city (esp. the Inner Habour, where I spent most of my time). I had a great time in Baltimore, and a very long trip back to Cape Town [Baltimore-Detroit-Amsterdam-Cape Town]. I have no recollection of that trip. I remember leaving the Hyatt Hotel in Baltimore....then landing in Cape Town. I was tired. It had been a long, but very exciting week. In the pictures: me at the Inner Harbor, a landmark of the city of Baltimore; and me at the CheeseCake Factory, having cheese cake :) As I left Baltimore, I was: inspired...
They say New York City doesn't sleep. Well, when I was in NYC, I didn't sleep! I stayed at W Hotel, literally 10 minutes walk from Times Square! My stay in New York was a pre-conference retreat at Facebook Engineering Office before the Grace Hopper conference. I was on the Facebook scholarship for GHC. The first night in town, Facebook took us to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway! A dream come true for a dream I had not dreamt yet! The experience was out of this world! It was my first time at a musical, it was my first time to witness theatre of such brilliance! Exploring NYC with my friends from Taiwan, Turkey and Brazil made one of my best memories yet. I loved it. In the pictures: me at Times Square; and me on the ferry to Staten Island, going by /*near*/ the Statue of Liberty. When I left New York, I was: open to new possibilities...
Unlike my other trips, my stay in Ghana was longer. I stayed for three full weeks. It was very humid at the time, I really enjoyed the weather, my skin did too. In Ghana, I was attending the leadership institute as part of the MILEAD Fellowship: three weeks of intensive training on transformational women's leadership. I met some of the most amazing African women while there, and I learned so much from them, and the many speakers that came. God bless Moremi. We often frequented Accra Mall and Makola Market where we got the feel of shopping in Ghana. The people - beautiful at heart. One of my best friends is Ghanaian, so maybe I already had a liking for Ghanaians, but honestly though, they are such a humble people, and very disciplined. They reminded me slightly of the folks from Zambia. While in Ghana, we also had the opportunity to visit Cape Coast and learn about the history of slave trade, and had a thrilling experience at the Kakum National Park :) There is so much to tell about Accra, and Ghana. I would love to go back some day. In the pictures: me in my Ghanaian dress at Volta Hall; me and other MILEAD fellows at Cape Coast Castle. When I left Accra, I was feeling African...and committed to making a difference.
My trip to Zurich was my first trip out of Africa, out of Southern Africa. By then, my longest flight had been a three hour flight from Cape Town to Durban. I didn't know what to expect, but I was excited. Via Dubai, we flew out to Zurich for the Google scholars' retreat. Those days are without doubt some of the happiest days of my life, and most humbling too. The retreat at Google offices changed my view of the world tremendously. For the first time, it made so much sense to me that the world is one village. I appreciated at very interesting level, the fact that I am part of the global village, and that there is no reason to be afraid to dream globally. Zurich is a typical European city, absolutely beautiful. I don't know much architecture but I loved almost every building I saw in Zurich. Did I mention swiss chocolate? :) In the pictures: upon arrival in Zurich, looking at the pictures I can almost relive the joy of that day :); and at the town-ward edge of Lake Zurich. The Zurich experience in one word: eye-opening.