Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Training begins in Cape Town


That would be the Xhosa greeting. If you prefer guttural, incomprehensible, half-European/half-African languages you can look up the Afrikaans for "hello." Anyway, today was a full day of training in the hotel conference room. 5 interns were late and were summarily punished with having to dance in front of the other 20 interns and a dozen GRS full-timers. We had hours of information from a variety of black and white South Africans and also a slew of American staff. Pretty interesting stuff, especially from the local black coaches who are the ones actually going into the townships to deliver the curriculum.

Curtis and I went with one of the full-timers on a run out by the beach at Green Point, where the World Cup stadium (it's enormous) is being built. This guy does Iron Mans, Marathons and Triathalons like they're nothing so it was (literally) an uphill battle to stay with him on a treacherous run through all these really wealthy cliffside neighborhoods (we were told its the most expensive real estate in Africa).

Last night was pretty special. We showed up at GRS HQ downtown at 7 PM because we were told we had to sign a code of conduct and go over the booze/drug policy. We get there, get handed a legal document we had to read and sign (which really was a legit drug and alcohol policy), skim it and sign, and then Kirk--one of GRS founding fathers and current bigwigs--tells us law requires him to read the entire thing (word for word) to us. Nobody made it too visible, but disappointment was in the air since this monster document was 2 pages of thick text and it was going to suck to be stuck there on our first real night in Cape Town. Then a booming creaking noise rang out and one of the African staff dressed as MJ dances out of the door and into the room, tears up the contract that was to be read, and then moonwalks across the document's scattered remains to the tune of Thriller. With the act of defiance, at least 40 or 50 GRS full-time staff, their spouses and children--who had been hiding in the office's upper loft the entire time--exploded into visibility out of doors and windows and showered us with confetti and candy. At that point the whole GRS staff--higher-ups and all--broke into a "Welcome to GRS" parody medley of Thriller, Wonderwall and Wagon Wheel. The whole ridiculous show was insanely well choreographed by the whole staff and made us feel way too special. Then there was a little bit of schmoozey meet-and-great before the interns took off for dinner. Pretty cool though.

On Friday they do the "big reveal" of our posts and jobs for the year, so that's exciting. Can't really go wrong though. You'll definitely know when I do...

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