Sydney Vander Waerdt
Versatile | Genuine | Free Spirited
Who is your hero? My grandmother is my personal hero. She is a world traveler who educates herself in every way possible while traveling. She reads books about the area while she is there and writes extensive reflections to better her understanding of the environment. My whole life she has been taking me to museums, operas, given me books for every birthday, taught me that there are places to see, people to meet, art to appreciate, and things to learn. To top it all off, she is still rock climbing, playing competitive tennis, and gardening at the age of 75!
Why South Africa? First of all, I made the decision to do things that are out of my comfort zone at a young age. I want to challenge myself and gain as much knowledge about this world that I can and seize the opportunities which allow me to do so. Africa is known to be the cradle of humanity, and I can only imagine what that continent must feel like. It not only has an extremely complex history, but a mysterious prehistory as well. I am excited to be exploring archaeological sites in Kruger National park, and experiencing the comfort and discomfort while studying the culture in the villages of Hamakuya.
What are you looking forward to? I’m looking forward to seeing big game animals in their natural habitat and seeing stars in a rural area for the first time! This trip will be much more than anthropology work, so I’m excited to learn about conservation, rural and urbanizing communities, and everything else in between. I’m looking forward to stargazing, seeing sunsets, and hearing new animal noises. We are all going to be learning from the many different bright-minded people around us, and I’m excited for the impact it will bring. I am truly looking forward to meeting myself when I get back from this life changing experience.
What do you hope to accomplish? I am hoping to pull aspects from the cultures that I experience and use them in everyday life and my education and to build other ideas and to better analyze situations. I am excited to take the next step forward and start to learn how to make urban living more sustainable. I have little idea what to expect from this education abroad program, but I am hoping to fuel a new passion in my life, set a more specific direction for my career, build a bigger base for my education, and form new relationships that will help me get to where I am going.