Today, we are pleased to publish a note sent via Facebook by South African participant Tascha Terblanche some days after the forum. We wanted to preserve its original emotive touch so we have not made a single change in it. Gestures like these show us that, one way or another, we managed to make SABF a possible experience to participants from all around the world, no matter where they come from. So, with you today, a letter from Tascha Terblanche.
My SABF Experience:
“I realise that sharing my experience of the SABF two weeks post-summit may strike some as being a bit late… But I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the experience during this time and I have come to the conclusion that time brings us many things, but the most valuable is perspective.
On the plane back to Cape Town the Sunday night I cried so much that the flight attendant came to me and asked me to move to the back row where I would not upset the people next to me. I left behind a worried and confused couple that were in the seats next to me – both were like 100 years old and kept trying to console me in Spanish. When I moved to the back row it struck me that this type of experience was what I had since the first moment I landed in Buenos Aires. People were open and welcoming and helpful and they were everywhere – From the guy in the mobile phone shop who spent an entire hour with me having a conversation about buying a Sim card (He would type a sentence into Google translate, then I would read the English version, reply and he would patiently wait for the Spanish translation and start again) to the guy in the coffee shop who tried to learn some Arabic from Hamza and then gave us both free coffee to the most amazing and intelligent people I met at the SABF. I have never been exposed to such a diverse, intelligent and amazing group of people as you guys.
Not a day goes by that I do not remember the conversations, the laughing, the eating, the listening, the learning… I am sometimes so sad that I did not get the chance to become close to more of you. But I have thought of a solution already: You all need to come to Cape Town and get come quality cultural exchange going in South Africa (everyone better be agreeing and checking their diaries right now). Not a day goes by where I am not overwhelmed by the thought of how this summit and the people I met surpassed my expectations. From the day I received the unexpected news that I was coming to Buenos Aires I was obviously excited. But I did not for a single moment imagine that this experience would represent the turning point it has. I was looking forward to the workshops and leaders and CEO’s that would be speaking, I was looking forward to seeing Buenos Aires, I was looking forward to engaging with the topic of the summit… I never expected for a moment that the people I would meet would ensure that this was by far the most memorable, informative, educational (both culturally and academically) and inspiring 4 days of my life.
I believe that the most powerful experiences I have had when it comes to cultural exchange is the purity that is involved with the exchange of words. When there is a language gap between two people – what you express is not clouded by any gestures or insinuated meanings or even body language. You are forced to reduce every emotion and opinion to single words and express yourself using only a carefully constructed sentence with specifically chosen words. You get to know a person without a single pretence or hidden meaning. I think this is how pure friendships start and this is the reason that the SABF and my interaction with all of you have given me more than you can ever imagine – memories that I will never forget, friends I treasure and love, knowledge transferred to me from all your big brains, Ideas and Inspiration for the my future, the future of my country and the future of my continent. I am immensely thankful for what you all have given – the world has suddenly become a place full of possibilities for me.
I think many of you share my excitement at the fact that the African continent was represented at SABF this year and I hope that you share my sentiment when I say this achievement must be continued and expanded. Africa needs representation at an event like this as the entire summit involved opportunities for learning about ideas and projects that work in other countries. It gives us the opportunity to come back to our countries and promote similar projects that have the power to eradicate poverty, increase small and medium sized businesses and give less privileged people access to micro financing as examples. There is a great deal to be learned and shared amongst young individuals from different developing nations who experience at first hand the global challenges of today.
I would like to leave you with one last thought (otherwise I might just never stop typing). It has been my experience that converting our ideas and passions into actions following such a summit is often questioned by onlookers. So many people here at home are cynical regarding such events and they regards them as mere opportunities to add that “Entry: Argentina” stamp into their passport. However, I tend to have a very bright eyed approach to any opportunity that allows me to share with others the realities in South Africa, the challenges we face as youth regarding unemployment, skills development, education, poverty and civic engagement. I think I was fortunate to be confronted with you guys who share that sentiment and loved sharing the realities of your countries. There is so much to be learned from these types of conversations. And purely judging from the emails, facebook discussions and conversations I see taking place still two weeks post summit – I think we have a great opportunity to ensure that the discussion do not stop and do not remain only words. May we continue to share and collaborate on solutions and ideas that enrich each of our perspectives and may time only increase this level of enriched perspective.”