Monday, August 10, 2009


Hello Everyone!

Here is an update for everyone.

I am currently in the process of uploading all the pictures from the official WoCo cameras to our site. The address to look at all the photos is:

Thank you everyone for all your support!!

Hannah Haugle

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Very Latest Update

I just got off the phone with Alan (AKA Dr. Rieck). He wanted you all to know that the girls who had not been feeling well are feeling much better today. They will board their flight around 9:00 CDT and arrive at Dulles around 5:00 AM CDT tomorrow morning where they will go through customs and catch their flights back to Minneapolis.

I'm sure we can all say that we've appreciated their journey and loved the stories, but it will be good to know that they are all safely back in the good old U.S.A.

The plan is that the blog will continue with more stories once the girls are all safely back home. They have promised photos as well. Plan to stay and hear them.

Soweto and Sickness

Friday was an interesting day. We began by going to Soweto (name is derived from shortening South West Township). It became a black suburb of Johannesburg during the Apartheid Era when the government moved all the blacks out of the city center. It is the location of much of the struggle against the Apartheid government. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu both have homes in this area. The people have a great deal of pride in their land and home. They police the area themselves. It has been effective since crime is virtually non-existent there. After touring the Hector Pieterson Museum (Hector Pieterson was a 13 year old who was shot and killed by police in a peaceful rally on June 16, 1976) and learning a great deal about the struggle against the govenments system we were off to a local restaurant. Many mystery meats there and some great ice cream.

After lunch it was off to the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus. We expected to have a cultural exchange with the Soweto choir, but walked in to discover that there was an Arts competition taking place at the school with hundreds of enthusiastic spectators and that we were one of the groups to perform. When we sang our South African songs the response was beyond belief. The judge asked to speak to us after the performance, was complimentary and then proceded to enthusiatically discuss President Obama and play a rally song for his campaign.

We returned to the hotel and got ready for the last dinner in South Africa. Unfortunately it was at this time that three of the girls were hit with the flu. They have seen a doctor and have some medications for the trip home. Our traveling nurses Cheryl Olson and Susan Becht were wonderful. We had a meeting in Dr. Rieck's huge suite and talked about the great trip that we have experienced and how we want this to be a beginning for us as we seek to share the ways that we have been changed by our experiences. Thanks for your support and for your interest in reading our blog. There will be more posts when we arrive back in the states. For now it is off to the Apartheid Museum and then the airport. It has been unbelievable. Can't wait to see everyone at home.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Last Full Day...Post delayed

Thank you to everyone following our blog. We will try to get a post for this last full day in Joburg (our trip to the township of Soweto) sometime Saturday. A stomach ailment has suddenly afflicted a number of the group. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

From the Wilds of Pilanesberg to the Pristine Gardens of Pretoria

The morning not only started very early but also cold, dark and rainy. But the difficult start was worthwhile as we were able to observe during our early morning safari even more of the same animals we had already seen and also some giraffes. One group was even able to observe a lion feasting on the carcass of a wildebeast.

From Pilanesberg we traveled to Lesedi Cultural Village where we were able to experience a bit of the culture of four ethnic groups of South Africa. After a tour we were treated to a dance extravaganza and a lunch of ostrich and crocodile where some were surprised to find that ostrich tastes like beef. (Finally something that doesn't taste like chicken!)

After lunch we traveled to Pretoria, one of four capital cities in South Africa. We visited the Union Buildings and surrounding pristine terraced gardens of indigenous plants where Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa's first black president.

All in all, a very full, exhausting and satisfying day was had by everyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Into the Bush

The morning started out with a trip to a souvenir shop that the guides told the group was probably the best and most inexpensive place to buy gifts and remembrances. WOCO didn't waste any time spending lots of money. But they have some very nice, tangible items to bring home with them.

Then it was all aboard the bus for the 2+ hour trip to Pilanesberg Natioal Park for some African bush experiences. After a very hearty meal the group was taken into the bush. The game drive was a feast for the eyes, bringing the group within short distances of blue wildebeasts, zebras, antelope, rhinos, hippos, elephants, lions and even a rare appearance of a leopard. Phenomenal was one description. (There have been many photo ops and stunning photography but the visual sharing of these moments has to wait until return to the United States because a technical glitch has made sharing them now impossible. Watch for them after Sunday!!)

Dinner was served in the bush and WOCO was able to sing around the campfire after dinner. The experience was moving for all, especially a couple of the waitstaff who showed appreciation for their singing, offering warm thanks.

The group had to turn in early as they will receive a 4:55 AM wake-up call for a morning game drive. They have been told they may be able to add giraffes to the list of animals they have been able to view in their natural environment.

In the words of Kirsten Rieck "This was the best day ever!"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back to Joburg...from Dr. Rieck

The trip to Joburg went well. Pretty uneventful since our fantastic tour guides went with us. This new hotel is quite the place. Lots of restaurants here (that is great for safety). The casino is attractive to some students. We sang a concert with the Wits University Choir tonight. It was a highlight for me and for the choir. It was inspirational, the women sang as well as they have since arriving here and I will remember it for a long time. The Wits Choir was wonderful as well. The concert opened with "The Dons" a high school boys choir that is conducted by the Wits Choir director. They were wonderful as well. We received several very nice compliments. They got all the choirs on stage at the end and did Siyahamba together--very inspirational. Then they taught the women a new song as well. The conductor complimented us on our spirit and spontaneity. I appreciated that very much.