Wetskills-USA 2023, by Ayanda Mafunda (Department of Water and Sanitation (SA)) – Today we began the day as we always do, with the hustle and bustle of catching the train at the subway on our daily commute to the consulate. Today was no ordinary day though, the streets were packed full of people dressed in green clothes, some in muted olive greens, others adorned in sparkly horn green headbands and tulle skirts. Even the sun could not hold back, it finally smiled at us and transformed the New York from its cold gloom into a scenic warm array of crisp skyscrapers and brightly illuminated gigantic billboards.
Down the street from the consulate where we work is a hidden gem, an iconic bagel shop. We quickly dashed there for a warm toasted bagel and a Starbucks coffee for breakfast.
At 09:00, our workday began, there was a nervous excitement in the air, both probably from being so close to the end, at the cusp of the culmination of it all.
The week had been an intense one, filled with stress and excitement, fun and anxiety, but also triumphs and breakthroughs. Most teams were now dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on their reports, ironing the wrinkles on their posters, and polishing their pitch presentations.
The workday ended a bit earlier and we left for lunch. We got burgers and shakes from a trendy corner shop called Shake shack. We then proceeded to take a walk to visit the iconic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The cathedral was a sight to behold with its high arched ceilings, eerie lights, and candles scattered along the walls. The reverberating sounds and murmured prayers gave it an ethereal feeling.
Thereafter, we proceeded to the hostel to prepare the cultural foods “bring and share”. We bought a few South African foods namely umqhusho (samp and beans), umleqwa (homegrown chicken), biltong, droëwors, bobotie, the gatsby, and malva pudding. We got to taste some delicious Brazilian cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine, Dutch cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Western cuisine, and Caribbean cuisine. Everyone shared a bit about their cultural foods and then the conversation about food names sparked some mini tutorials on languages, phonics, and how words are pronounced in the different languages. Overall, it was a colourful day in every sense of the word.