There and Back Again (There = MN, Back = CT)

27 Jul

Greetings, blog followers! It certainly has been quite a long time since I last posted. I could blame it on a bevy of things that kept me from visiting the blogosphere at the end of last semester. But I think I’ll utilize this space to document my trip back to the US. I’m glad you’ve stuck with me. 🙂

Many of those reading this entry will be fully aware of my time spent at home in Minnesota for June and July. After the end of the first semester at UCT, I took some time to return back to the States, to attend a number of weddings and experience the summer in the Northern Hemisphere for what it’s worth. A considerable amount of my time was devoted to enjoying the company of family and friends beside the shores of some body of water. Ala true Minnesota-summer fashion. My reentry back to Minnesota closely coincided with the beginning of what is surely to be a devastating heat wave in the United States. Coupled with an unseasonably dry and warm winter as well as low precipitation from the middle of June until now, farmers in the Midwest region of the States are experiencing serious drought and corresponding crop failures. Of course, in the company of Minnesotans, this was talked about in nearly every interaction. Weather is the great equalizer in terms of topics of conversation. However, I didn’t quite expect to be discussing it with South Africans upon my arrival. Nevertheless, it has come up in conversation more than once. The difficulties experience by farmers in the United States have a rippling effect on the global food market. Due to speculation of low crop yields in the world’s highest producer of maize, prices of the grain have risen dramatically. And this translates to a shared struggle all over the world in terms of food. Forgive my oversimplification of global food trade; the point is the world is watching what effect climate is having on middle-America.

While home for the nearly 8 weeks, I also took the opportunity to meet with Rotary clubs throughout the northern reaches of the state. These included Fergus Falls Noon Club, Detroit Lakes Breakfast Club, Ely Club, and, of course, the Pelican Rapids Club. I was warmly received by each one I spoke to. In Ely, The Gateway to the Boundary Water Canoe Are Wilderness, I was given the extreme honor to be featured on a radio show called “End of the Road Trading Post,” airing every weekday on WELY (94.5 FM in the Ely area, streaming online at WELY.com) from 9-10 am. I have to say, my radio debut was quite fun and kept me on my toes (“The fastest hour on radio,” said “Trader” Craig Loughery, the host of the show, past Assistant District Governor for District #5580 and an Ely Rotarian). During the hour, we read advertisements people would call in for either items to sell or items needed for purchases (I described it to family and friends as “Craigslist for the airwaves.”For you South Africans, “Gumtree for the airwaves.”) For instance, my favorite ad, which was not read on-air, went something a little like this:

“FREE! Foosball table. Like-New condition. You can pick it up at the end of the dock. We live on Lake Vermillion”

Craig peppered in questions to me about my Ambassadorial experience in South Africa. It was a great opportunity to talk about my studies in Cape Town as well as my impressions of the country. It served additionally as some (hopefully) good PR for the Rotary clubs in District #5580 and the Ambassadorial Scholarship!

I arrived back to Cape Town on Monday after a four-day impromptu layover in Paris (stay tuned for that installment). Classes have begun for the second semester already, and I have been busy working on my research project for my Masters. It is titled “The Role of Land Reform and Rural Development in Sustaining Small-Scale Agriculture,” and seeks to study the impacts of a particular program implemented by the South African government in a number of rural areas throughout the country with regards to food security.

With the semester already under way, I have a feeling these next few months will speed past even more quickly than the last 6 have. I am grateful to have a life established in Cape Town already. Returning from home, I knew what was here, busily thriving while I was away. I am blessed with the company of many friends, and have the support of the wonderful people in the Pinelands Rotary Club.

My mom, Denise, and boyfriend, Nate, creating a “proper” braai pit on the site where our old wooden barn stood using cinder blocks and rebar found in my parents’ yard. Pelican Rapids, MN. June 2, 2012.

Here’s to the next chapter!

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