Archive for October, 2011

Its 6am and time to wake up for the finals.  Jeff and I got super pumped and headed off to the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) to compete.  The SCA is the highest court in South Africa sitting even with the Constitutional Court which handles purely constitutional issues.  We entered a beautiful, old courtroom.  It had a gallery that filled up during our round and a large bench for the five judges that ran across the opposite side from the gallery.  The judges entered from behind a large red curtain to take their places above us in their king-like chairs.  All five judges were either High Court Justices or Supreme Court of Appeals Justices. 

            We represented the respondent, a difficult side to take, and argued our hearts out.  Our opponents were extremely well versed with South African law repeatedly quoting cases, statutes, and international treaties.  Jeff and I were not intimidated.  We stood up and argued one of the most passionate rounds of our lives.  The retired highest Judge in South Africa hammered Jeff with questions which he answered wonderfully and refused to give in.  I fielded questions from all five judges and not one made me squirm. After hours of practice with Professor Wofford, Lynna, Bo, and the rest of those that helped judge, Jeff and I were ready for anything. 

            We watched the round after ours and then exited for a relaxing (attempt to relax) afternoon before hearing the results that evening at the gala.  We got all dolled up and headed to the gala at six.  The gala was at a school outside Bloem, in a beautiful room with a thatch roof.  Huge candelabras on the tables, amazing food, and all the soft rock hits from the 80’s, 90’s and today.  We were so lucky to listen to our guest speaker, a retired High Court Judge (equivalent to a circuit court judge) speak briefly about ethics which is crucial for practitioners no matter where you are.  Finally, time for the results.  Best English speaking team: Team J (that’s us!) then Best overall team (between us and the best Afrikaan speaking team) “For the second year in a row, Charlotte School of Law, Team J!” 

            The night was filled with handshakes, hugs, flashing pictures, cocktails, and gandering (ask Jeff what that means—he’ll give you a demonstration).  We will never forget one of the best nights in South Africa. 

            The next day we headed out to a shelter for street kids bringing KFC, fresh fruit, candy, and treats along with a rented, huge, blow-up waterslide and twenty soccer balls for the boys.  I got a little emotional watching the boys joy playing on the waterslide.  We took tons of pictures and when it was time to go the boys did not want Jeff to leave!  Next thing we knew we were back on a plane headed home.  We cannot wait to see everyone when we return and we will never forget what an amazing experience Charlotte Law has given us.


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Bloem Part Deux


We arrived in Bloem and our wonderful friend and driver, Adrian, took us over to the UFS campus for a meet-and-greet. The Oprah was not in attendance.  As we entered the doorway, there was a table of shot glasses filled with sherry. The teams were incredibly friendly, outgoing and eager to know about the U.S. court and jury system.  They found our explanations were confusing and complicated.  We assured them that certainly this was the case.


I set my alarm to wake everybody up at 6:45am.  When breakfast arrived at 7am, I realized my alarm was still set to Charlotte time.  You’re welcome everybody.


Today was the first day of the competition.  We were taken downtown Bloem to the High Court of Appeals. The architecture of the building much resembled that of a federal courthouse in the U.S. Large pillars, beautiful mahogany, high ceilings, and an extremely slippery marble floor.


Enter competition courtroom. We donned the robes and Abbey immediately assumed her role as the Honorable Abbey. We went against two teams, playing both sides, in front of three advocates / attorneys serving as judges.  The judges were fair and objective.  We were excited because they did not ask us to leave, tell us we were wrong, nor sit down and shut up. All in all, great success.


We waited for a few hours for the results, had lunch, and took a group photo on the steps of the courthouse.  The results were in, and only five English speaking teams and one Afrikaan team would compete Saturday in the final rounds.  There was a tie between two English-speaking teams and two Afrikaan-speaking teams who had to face off again that afternoon to determine their spot.  Out of the four teams to automatically advance, we were one of them. It took all we had not to give each other high-fives in the gallery, so we chest-bumped, instead.


Tomorrow at 8:30am, we stand-off for our final round. This one’s for all the marbles.


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Bloemfontein 2011

Today was our day in Bloemfontein to prepare for our service project on Sunday and to go see the baby kitties.  Thankfully everyone is feeling much better and we had a really great day!

To start the morning, we had a yummy breakfast with South African style bacon and sausages with eggs, yogurt, toast, and some sort of delicious OJ.  Our friend who is driving us around, Adrian, picked us up and we were off to the cat place.

The cat place is called “The Cheetah Experience” and is a place where orphaned cats (lions, cheetahs, etc.) or cats who need a home go for a while.  Jeff was particularly excited to see the Cheetahs and although we thought he bonded with the Dassey on Table Mountain, he really seemed to be one with the Cheetah.

There were others with us on the tour that was led by a really nice tour guide.  There were about four kids on the tour including an 11 month old baby.   We went to see the lions that are now about 16 month olds that Lynna and Bo held last year.  They are huge and now have a sort of mohawk mane.  They were relaxing in the shade until that baby started fussing a little.  The biggest one came right up to the fence and started pacing back and forth while staring at the baby.  We pretty much agreed he was thinking “woohoo, lunch!”

We then saw other animals and made our way to the cheetah enclosure where there are two adult female cheetahs.  One is friendly and was happy to let us pet her while she slept.  The other one is a littl bit wary of people and spent her time looking at the sheep next door and wondering how to get over the 12 ft. fence.

This afternoon Abbey and Jeff spent time planning the service project which so far includes twenty soccer balls, a blow up water slide, and KFC.  More details and plans to follow because the competitions starts tomorrow!!

We went tonight to a meet and greet with all the coaches and participants for the competition.  Everyone involved is very warm and receptive to our team’s participation.  Abbey and Jeff had the opportunity to talk to the judges who will be judging tomorrow’s round and to get a feel for the competition.

Keep your fingers crossed and we will share the experience with you tomorrow!

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For those of you in law school, some of you will appreciate the App. Ad. paper that is due this week.  It’s a 27 page paper that is due the week we’re in South Africa every year.   Last year Bo worked on it all week and this year Abbey and Jeff are working on it.   I thought I’d do my part and blog a little tonight while they work on their papers.

Abbey and Jeff have shared experiences they have had as first time South Africa visitors.  To have the opportunity to travel back for this competition is really an honor.  Today we arrived in Bloemfontein which is the judicial capitol of South Africa.  We’re staying in the same bed and breakfast we stayed in last year.  It’s this nice house with three bedrooms added on making a sort of wing.  It’s run by two of the nicest people you could every meet–Adrian and his wife Hanika (pronounced like the Jewish holiday).  They do all they can to make us feel at home.

After spending three nights in a bustling area in Cape Town, staying in a cozy B&B is welcomed.  For me it was interesting how different it felt to return to this place.  It was so nice to see Hanika and talk to her.  Last year she had this tiny puppy that now he is this round Pug that jumps up for some lovin’. 

We were picked up by Adrian, an attorney who is still affilated with the law school at the hosting University of the Free State.  He and I have kept in touch via Facebook over the past year.  It was like catching up with an old friend while we were chatting on the way to the B&B.

Today made me realize even more how important competitions like this really are.  They provide opportunity for both education and relationships.  The relationships formed make the world a little smaller and make us more interested in what people 8,000 miles away are up to.  It gives us the opportunity to go meet the street boys and see how we can help them a little to make their lives easier.

Many people ask, why does your school (in Charlotte) send students all the way to South Africa?  First, the experience of learning about a different country’s legal system teaches students creativity and tolerance.  Second, having relationships throughout the world makes people realize how similar we are to each other.  Finally, it provides an annual opportunity and tradition to give to a community as representatives of our law school.

On Sunday we’ll continue this tradition by spending the day with the street boys like we did last year.

Abbey and Jeff have done so much to prepare themselves for the competition and are really taking in every experience while we’re here.  The relationships, education, and tradition continues.

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Cape Town Part II


Today was another glorious day in Cape Town.  Unfortunately for Abbey, she awoke under the weather and because the morning was a bit cold and rainy, there was no alternative but to spend the day in bed.  Lynna and I had a quick breakfast, brought Abbey back some fresh fruit and ginger beer (which was nothing like ginger ale, apparently…when in Rome, I guess) and then I got stuck in the shower. After I convinced Lynna it wasn’t a joke – that false imprisonment was indeed an issue, she called in the cavalry and I was rescued by two kind gentlemen and a screwdriver.


We hopped on the double-decker bus towards Hout Bay and took this beautiful windy road through the jungle on the back side of Tabletop Mountain. Our mission was to take a boat from the bay to ‘seal island’ and witness the great white in its natural habitat.  Unfortunately for us, there are two ‘seal islands’; one where sharks feed and one where they do not. We found ourselves at the latter, but were happy to continue enjoying ourselves as Lynna mingled with some local fishermen and hand-fed a seal off the dock.


During the bus ride back, the sun broke out and the dissipating clouds created a splendid mix of the greenest blue water I’ve ever seen. We had lunch near the beach and walked around the shops. I was blown away by the diversity of the population and the outgoing friendliness everyone seems to naturally adhere to. 


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            We started the trip off at 4am on Saturday morning, and I forgot my pants.  After losing an entire day in a plane we finally arrived in Cape Town, South Africa.  Our hotel, located in the heart of the Waterfront area is a remodeled prison from the 1800’s.  We have yet to see or hear any ghosts in this beautiful establishment (we have been calling it home).  As soon as we checked in, we took a ten minute walk down to the harbor and enjoyed an amazing, delicious meal.  The locally inspired sushi dishes and seafood plates were unforgettable.  One of the pieces of sushi was called a “pepper sandwich” with tuna, fresh peppers, seaweed, salmon, and some kind of magical sauce.  I finally remembered after 26 hours that I still needed some pants, so we ended up at the outdoor mall on the water.  We ended up cruising the streets listening to live music and shopping in local boutiques that permeated the waterfront area.  Finally, after being awake for a solid 36 hours, we fell sound asleep in our comfy rooms.

            After a rejuvenating 12 hours of sleep, the three of us grabbed breakfast at the hotel restaurant that also offers meals to MBA graduate students in the area.  After breakfast, we headed out on the CitySightSeeing RedBus tours.  We went total tourist snapping photos all over Cape Town from the top of a double decker bus.  Our first stop was in downtown Cape Town at the Green Square Market.  Lynna and I were able to haggle with some locals, putting our negotiating skills to work and fulfilling our Skills requirement, while Jeff wondered aimlessly praying we would decide to go to Table Mountain any minute.  Next stop, Table Mountain.  The trip up was windy and windy and completely worth it.  Not only did we get the chance to view the Coast of South Africa from 5400 feet up, we also bore witness to the Dassi, a species unique to Table Mountain and related to the elephant.  (Think beaver with no tail).  Jeff was so moved he took over 20 pictures of the animal in its natural habitat.  For a moment, Jeff locked eyes with the Dassi, it was unforgettable. 

After taking the cable car back down from the top of the mountain, we hopped back on the RedBus and headed along the coastline.  We had the chance to spot where Lynna and Bo stayed last year, we prefer prison.  Then we headed to the indoor shopping market, which Jeff surprisingly enjoyed while still carrying around everything Lynna and I had purchased from the aforementioned shopping spree.  Supra, n.2.

We took a break stop at the hotel to drop things off and headed down to the clock tower to eat some seriously good South African cuisine.  Confit Pork, Smoked Trout, Boula Blaze, and some delicious curry were served for another amazing dinner on the cape.  Tommorrow, we are traveling out to Seal Island to see some Great White Sharks, stopping on the way to hang out with some monkeys and penguins.  We can’t wait to get some amazing photos!  Now its time for studying and bed.


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