Today was our last day in South Africa; it has been quite a week. This blog wraps up our trip…we hope you enjoyed sharing in it with us.
Yesterday was the competition; we drew first and argued in the Court of Appeals at 8:15 am against a team from the local university. We argued again at 11:00, representing the opposing side, against a team from Zululand. It was quite interesting to see the contrasting styles, not only between our team and the others, but between the teams from different provinces. The judges, teams, and audience members were very complementary and a bit humbled that we had come all this way, learned their law, their procedure (which is completely different) and held our own all the while.
The mother of our opponent in the first round found us in the ‘tea room’ and gave us a gift with a note attached. We were quite in awe of this gesture and felt very welcome in the competition.
After our second round we headed downstairs where the teams were announced for the final round. They first announced the teams who competed in Afrikaans, one of the 11 recognized official languages in South Africa. It was now time for the English teams to be announced and sides to be chosen for the argument. To our delight we were selected to compete in the finals at the Supreme Court of Appeals, the highest court in South Africa.
We arrived at the Court and took a few pictures. As we entered the courtroom we were made aware that we would be speaking in front of eight judges. The courtroom was very old and beautiful. With a gallery filled with the other fifteen teams and coaches, as well as a camera crew, we began our argument. We performed our best argument to date and were quite pleased with the result. Six weeks of intense preparation (including 2 briefs….or “heads of arguments”) had come together and it was very rewarding. Exhausted, we returned home for a quick break prior to the awards banquet.
While we did not win first place, we were showered with congratulations from the other teams and the judges who were present for taking second place. They thanked us for travelling so far and taking the time to learn their law and argue it well. The rest of the night was spent saying our good-byes to the many friendly people we met during our time in South Africa. We are very proud of our accomplishment and look forward to sharing more details upon our return.
We spent the majority of the day at Kidz Care Trust, a street shelter for boys. Two other shelters also brought their boys….one drove 4 hours (each way) to participate! It was an amazing experience. From the monies we raised we were able to provide them with a full day of fun and many essentials that they struggle to acquire.
Our hosts connected us with an inflatable company and we rented two large inflatables for the teens to play on. The teens must have gone up and down the water slide inflatable 100 times each. Another purchase made with the money was four soccer balls and two 8×6 soccer goals which we constructed with the help of some of the students from the University of the Free State’s Juridical Society (similar to our SBA). Rory purchased a whistle and refereed the first two matches. We also purchased them a net, paddles, and balls for their ping pong table.
We broke for lunch after the second match. We provided the children with KFC, it did not take long for the buckets to be emptied. All throughout the early morning and lunch, the teens took turns thanking us for coming to hang out with them. They were truly a grateful bunch.
After lunch, the games continued. We went to a round robin format with the final match to be decided prior to 3 pm departure time of the other groups. As Rory was walking to the field to resume his ref duties, one of the teams asked for a different ref (apparently, Rory is getting old – he couldn’t keep up with the teens so they wanted someone else who could keep up at all times).
After the matches ended and the other shelters departed, we distributed the other items we were able to secure. T-shirts, wash cloths, toothbrushes, and pens were all a big hit. Underwear was the biggest hit and was received with a round of applause. Our final gift was a set of hair clippers. The teens’ smiles were priceless.
After the items were given out, a few boys came forward and spoke. They thanked us and wished us luck in our journey back to America. It was an uplifting experience, not one we will soon forget.
Thanks for reading….time to prepare for exams