Dear Emzingo Family

Dedicated to the group I had the pleasure to spend the past eight weeks with.  Filled with inside jokes and not-so-subtle jabs.  Read at your own risk.

 

I am writing this message on the way to the airport after saying our heartbreaking goodbyes.  There is no way to fully put into words the experience these past two months have been.  I wish it could keep going, that the Emzingo days could extend until I grew tired of you guys.  But in truth, I could never get tired of Bhav’s constant motivational speeches, or Jake and Becky’s obsession with Zumba dancing, or Hrishi and Andrew’s evil maniacal cackle. Every moment with you guys has truly been a treasure and it’s painful to see it end until I remind myself how lucky I am to even have made these memories in the first place.

 

I’m going to miss Catherina’s inquisitive questions that oftentimes start off as, “So I was wondering…”  The orange Princeton water bottle she carries around all the time has probably travelled to more places than the average citizen, but not to mention it has also saved us from dehydration once or twice (as Catherina proudly likes to point out).  We all know Catherina will become an amazing medical practitioner in addition to a ballroom dancing queen.

Speaking of dancing talents, bhangra never looked so cool until Jake demonstrated.  I secretly see a dancing star within Jake (I’m referring to Zumba as well).  But on top of Jake’s friendly nature, I’ll always be grateful for the sturdy anchor he is, especially during the anomaly of our Cape Town return trip.  Yes, we all know what I’m referring to.

Cape Town was a highlight of my South Africa trip. On top of the stunning views, I still recall Dora’s horrifying experience whilst being chased down by a monkey.  The trip wouldn’t have been possible in the first place if it wasn’t for Dora’s patience in dealing with all of us and organizing all the minute details.  We all need a Dora in our life; she exceeds in “adult”-ing.

If Dora is the adult of our cohort, then oftentimes Naomie would be teased as the baby.  But in truth, Naomie is very fierce and outspoken, and also makes her presence known in the room (oftentimes in the hall before entering the room too).  She always asks how everyone is doing, checking in like a mother duckling.  But if there is one thing I won’t be able to get over is how she eats her noodles… with a spoon.  I suppose I have grown to accept and secretly love the eccentric and bizarre habits of our group.

In my humble opinion, Bhav might have some of the best, worst and most frustrating habits of all.  I’ll be forever grateful for our early breakfast cases at 7am in addition to his never-ending spiel of optimism.  If everyone had a quarter of Bhav’s persistence and motivation, procrastination levels would probably drop by 50% and the world would be a better place.  He really is a walking TED-talk but also a big softie inside.  Compliments aside, as smart as he is, sometimes it’s like talking to a wall when it comes to his own health.  Let it be ingrained here as I (and we all have at some point during the trip) chastise him for his gym habits.

I can see Jojo nodding in agreement.  Jojo-bean (coined by Dom), is a gem.  With a personality more voluminous than her hair – and that’s saying something – she makes her stance known on any subject without any hesitation.  Although it’s riled up more than one individual during the trip, it’s also refreshingly candid.  Words cannot describe the Jojo we have all gotten to know and love, but let me try to highlight a few key takeaways: dance-off master, porridge lover, and phone-dropper.  I think it’s safe to joke about that now.  (See “Table Mountain is no joke” for explanation).

Together with Jojo, Hrishi and I were the lucky three to be part of Team Driven.   Excuse my bias; Driven Entrepreneurs all the way.  Check them out here. Hrishi is probably one of the kindest people I have met.  He is also probably one of the most hair-sensitive individuals as well.  With his toffee hair product and pineapple button-ups, he has a very peculiar look whenever combing his hair (our office colleagues can nod to that) and a collection of interesting shirts.  Reliable and articulate but also easy-going and relatable, Hrishi is the one cheesy friend we can all attest to laughing with.

While we all hailed from different backgrounds and schools, Becky’s British accent takes the crown.  On top of her accent (can we all agree that everything with a British accent sounds more eloquent), Becky’s sharp eye and attention for detail, as well as her ballet-dancing elegance, always made me see her as a royal descendant.  Maybe the whole British thing is influencing me more than I’d like to admit….

On the topic of royalty, can we all agree that Berry sees the world in a rainbow filter and as his kingdom to rule?  With his pink pants, coiffed hair and casual saunter, I can’t tell if he is always walking out of an ad-agency or genuinely is this spectacular.  Perhaps my royalty jokes derive from his ability to speak to a group for an extended period of time in addition to his calm and collected delivery.  But if there’s one thing we can all never forget is the epic pictures Jojo captures, especially the one of Berry eating.  We have all been victims of her undercover photographic tendencies, but Berry’s picture deserves the royal throne.

Our Emzingo cohort would be incomplete without Marisa’s infectious smile and radiant red hair.  She is always very patient and gives 110% of her attention while listening.  Her passion for her work and the field of obstetrics always leads her out on individual trips to Joburg hospitals in order to gather more research.  Although she has a distaste for bran muffins, much to my dismay, Marisa is the empathetic friend that will always be by your side no matter what you go through.

There might be a dancing trend within our group.  Izzie is our local salsa dancing expert and health nut.  Her chia seed yogurt breakfasts, positive attitude, and assortment of accessories make her even more charming.  Her love for giraffes, evident by the various giraffe items she collects, never ceases to amuse me (especially the tale behind a certain giraffe patch).   By the way she scaled Table Mountain, I think Izzie deserves to be crowned the “most fit” amongst our group.  A testament to her strength, Izzie also cuts through noise and nonsense with ease.  Leave it to her to straighten out any gibberish (and believe me when I say there was much; group decision-making is a nightmare, especially with 14 eccentrics).

We all identified and agreed early on that our group was an amalgamation of irregularities.  If abnormal behaviour was our norm, then so was laughter.  Undoubtedly, Dom’s laugh is probably the most loudest and constant.   There is nobody who can capture the attention of a crowd and make everyone laugh as genuinely as she can.   Inventor of the best one-liners, Dom is witty, hilarious and the most stylish of us all.  I’ve never seen anyone rock black and white as much as she has.  Nor a forest green hat.  But beneath the always on-point lipstick and black booties, Dom looks out for everyone and is extremely compassionate.

I’d like to believe that we are all hardworking individuals, but by the way Laura clutches her LSAT book, I have never seen anyone develop as strong of a relationship with the content as she has.  There should be a blog named after “Laura and LSAT”; filled with pictures in which the two ventured together.  It can be a sister blog to “Catherina and Princeton Bottle”.  Laura is grounded, diligent and the subtle but deadly sass-master.   She has the ability to control the entire atmosphere of a room and a killer style to boot.

And last but most definitely not least, Julie!  Our program manager and surrogate mother, Julie is always looking out for the rest of us.  Whether it’s providing business advice or life lessons in her car on the way to the grocery market, Julie has influenced each of us some way or form.   Her “don’t-mess-with-me-attitude” is perfect for dealing with the ridiculousness of our cohort.  She’s the epitome of a strength but her fierceness does not infringe on her compassion nor sensitivity.  Supporting us throughout the entire trip while still giving us the space to grow, Julie is the best program manager, friend, and advisor we could have all wished for.

 

Many thanks for all the amazing memories and forged relationships these past eight weeks have created.  I know I will be hearing of many accolades to come from all of you; be it a future lawyer, doctor, or anthropologist to name a few.  In the meantime, I’ll prepare more riddles, learn a few more recipes that venture away from egg noodles and vegetables, and prepare some sparkly for the next time we meet.

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*Apologies for the sporadic colouring and bolding of certain words.

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