Rachel Vernon
Rachel Vernon
South Africa, 2022
Hi, my name is Rachel, I will be going to Cape Town, South Africa for 6 months to work with Volunteer Solutions. I plan to work in elementary schools with sports development and work in a local clinic. Read More About Rachel →

Happy New Year!

Hey everyone! Where did 2022 go? WOW! I can’t believe we are already a week into 2023! Due to the holidays, we have hosted lots of friends of Auntie V, Rozano, and Ronaldo. We enjoy picnics by the pool with “cool drink.” This is the season of “cool drink,” chips, and sweets! When I get home I am gonna need to eat veggies for a month straight. I realized I haven’t said much about the food here! Well, it is delicious! My favorite meal is tied between roti and curry or cabbage bredie. Both are meals you tend to eat when it is chilly out. The roti and curry is mince (aka ground beef) curry with potatoes, served on what looks like a tortilla. The cabbage bredie is kind of like a stew with cabbage, chicken, and potatoes served on rice. I have never eaten so many potatoes in my life! I also love a classic braai with grilled meats and salads.

As my time is coming to an end, I feel at peace. I am excited about going home and sad about leaving, but I feel like I have accomplished what I came here to do. I came to serve others, play soccer, learn about someone else’s culture, and build a life. I am proud of myself for being brave enough to move to another country alone. Not many people get the opportunity to move across the world and experience living a different life. I am so thankful Lumos has made this possible. This trip has had a huge impact on my life. I have grown into a more compassionate person with thicker skin. Someone who sees others not as black, white, or brown, but as people with common needs, such as food, water, and shelter. I also learned to appreciate all of the luxuries I have in a first-world country. More specifically, unlimited water supply. Not many people have a dishwasher due to the cost and amount of water used. Also, when I do laundry, I dump the soapy water onto the plants because no water must be wasted.

Playing head bands with the fam around the pool

New Year’s Eve was just an average day. Went to grocery stores, worked out, and did laundry. Most of the house fell asleep before midnight. I stayed up, but just barely. I was spooked when the neighbors set off a single firework because it sounded like a gunshot. Auntie V and Jade said they shot out of bed because it scared them so bad. The neighbors shot off a few more fireworks, but nothing like an American firework show. Although we couldn’t see the fireworks in town, I heard them for about an hour.




Tried tongue for the first time

New Years’ day was fun because we hosted Auntie Paul and her family. We had a braai in the backyard and listened to music by the pool. I also tried tongue for the first and last time. I was not a fan, but it was really cool that I got to try it. It is so weird that the first of 2023 was spent by the pool, rather than bundled up under a blanket.





Cape coons costumes at the parade

On January 2nd, there was a major event called, The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival. This is a parade from District 6 through the city center to the DHL stadium. The parade is held on the second of January, also known as a second new year or Tweede Nuwe Jaar. New Years was a time when the slaves, who had come from all over the world, were allowed to socialize with the colonists. The freed slaves began playing instruments in the city streets. Later it evolved into a parade filled with dancing, colorful clothing, and instruments. People line up the streets with tents, mattresses, chairs, and coolers. People get there early in the morning and camp out all day to get a good view. Due to COVID-19, the parade was suspended for the last 2 years, so this year everyone was there.

As I reflected on things I learned in 2022, most of them came from living in Cape Town and I wanted to share a few.
1. Communicate through everything because people can’t read your mind.
2. FOMO is overrated, find what you really want to do and do it because life is to short feeling like you’re missing out.
3. Gratitude daily makes you a happier person (I learned this in an online course I am currently taking through Yale University).
4. Growth is painful.
5. Fewer clothes mean less time and stress when picking out your outfit.
6. Time heals all wounds.
7. Listening attentively means you care.

Maybe you have learned some of these lessons this year. I challenge you to think about the lessons you learned this year and write them down. I have done this since my sophomore year of college and it is neat to see how I have grown and what I have learned over the years.

Khuluma ngokushesha (Talk soon, in Zulu)

One thought on “Happy New Year!”

  1. Wow Rachel, what a gift it has been to follow along as you share about your journey! You are courageous, staying present with all the highs and lows that your travels have brought. Thank you for inviting us into all that you’ve experienced! I am thinking of you and will be praying for you as you transition back to life in America. Love + smiles to you!☺️

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