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Hein Wagner Academy launch

The first thing you do every morning after your alarm has woken you is to open your eyes, and you see, something that’s a given to most of us.

Last week, at the Hein Wagner Academy launch, guests were promised a special surprise at the end of the tour of the facility.

The surprise came in the form of lunch in a room where the windows and doors were covered with blackout curtains. I was nervous because the last time Eskom turned the lights off in the middle of the night I felt the darkness crushing me.

At the entrance of the makeshift dining room a caterer handed us our meals in a box, and we were led to our tables by Wagner himself.

“Grab on to the person’s shoulder in front of you,” he reminded us before we set off to our table.

As we entered the room it felt as if it was as big as the town hall. We walked slowly to our table, and our hands were put on the back of our designated chairs.

“This is your seat, grab onto it,” Wagner ordered.

Clumsily I made sure I had a tight grip on the chair, and proceeded to seat myself taking care not to make any sudden movements for fear of the table being knocked over.

Finally, I am seated and my heart rate is slowly returning to normal. A waiter introduces himself from across the table and wants to take our drinks order, and in my excitement I put up my hand and ask for water. Within seconds the waiter was beside me, and within a minute my water was in my hand.

“How did he do that so quickly and remember where I was seated?” I ask my myself in sheer wonder, but then a split second later the reason is obvious.

The programme starts immediately, and this means it’s time to unpack lunch and start eating. I take a deep breath and for some reason I keep a smile on my face, as if hiding my innermost thoughts mattered. Slowly I feel the layout of my utensils in front of me. I suppose being a seeing person helps, because from memory I knew exactly where to feel for what.

This led me to wonder about those born blind, how they are able to commit to memory something they have never seen, and without knowing what to feel for?

My heart rate evened out, and for the next hour I enjoyed a lunch I wouldn’t be able to recognise if I saw it again. I can tell you that the chicken wrap with a hint of peanut butter sauce would not have been my first choice, but it was refreshingly crunchy and hit the spot.

The chocolate brownie for dessert was wrapped in a stubborn wrapper that nearly got the best of me in the darkness, but I breathed in deeply and eventually enjoyed the moist brownie.

What I learnt most from this experience is that no matter how much you slow down you eventually get to where you need to be. Also, whatever challenges you face, you can achieve anything by trusting in yourself and going forward with conviction.

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