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Traveling like a Local

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"Travel is not about where you go but how you see the world." Many people travel but never fully experience the culture they are surrounded by, they never take the time to immerse themselves into the world around them. Why not try to see the world through someone else's eyes, or put on someone else's shoes and experience the way they walk through life.

In April of 2013 a group of music outreach students went to Cape Town, South Africa for the first time. The first school they were scheduled to work with was located in a township called Manenberg. Manenberg is an impoverished area where the crime rate is off the charts. Children live in extremely dangerous conditions. Months before the outreach group arrived to this particular school in Manenberg a young man was stabbed to death just outside the school gates. The horrific fear of being 100% safe while teaching a workshop at the school may have been unspoken but was clearly on the minds of the outreach group. Fortunately all accommodations had been provided by a man who worked at the school and wanted to help this good cause.
That initial night in Manenberg most outreach members stayed at the homes with people of the community despite the danger, the crime and in some cases the unsanitary conditions. However, it did not matter. The outreach group was welcomed, protected and safe. The people of Manenberg held their visitors as family, as people they were to protect through anything. They felt it was their duty to share with the group the South African culture, the South African way of life. For one night they shut out the darkness, the fear, the crime, revealing instead the colorful nation that is passionate about living every moment of life.

While your travels may never take you to the private homes in a township such as Manenberg, you can still experience a culture and country from a local's perspective. Open your eyes and allow yourself to enjoy what may not be your typical textbook travel guide. Take a drive through the lesser known parts of town, visit a local coffee house, or market. See the world for what the world really is. The celebrations, the beauty, and the overwhelming diverse ways that people live life. Celebrate your own Manenberg.

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