Meet EIM Contributor, Estelle Strydom!

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I was born and raised in small-town South Africa. When I think of my childhood, many endless summers in the swimming pool, at the beach, or just around the neighborhood come to mind. Thinking back, those summers were truly endless compared to the summers (that one scorching week somewhere in August?) in Idaho. On a serious note, the summers here are truly wonderful, and that is one of the things that keep us sane during the long winter months. “Us” would be my husband, our 6-year-old son Sean, and me (and our 3 Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs).

In South Africa, Universities and Colleges are mainly located in cities or large metropolitan areas. To pursue my dream of becoming an attorney (after binge-watching way too many episodes of L.A. Law), I had to move away from home to attend the University of Pretoria. After obtaining my degree and being admitted as an attorney, I ended up specializing in corporate governance and compliance and spent very little time in court – so much for L.A. Law…

My husband and I got married in 2001 and we lived and worked in the big metropolitan area of the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria for 17 years. One of the things that motivated us to accept the work opportunity in the US was that we’d be part of a smaller community again. We relocated to Idaho Falls in February 2010 after my husband accepted a job with a local employer. Sean was born in 2014.

Ready to go! First flight to South Africa, 1 year old.

One of our shared family passions is to travel. After we got married my husband and I spent a lot of time traveling in Europe and South Africa. My last trip to Europe was during 2014 when I was expecting Sean. He loves to tell people that he has been to Europe in “my mom’s belly”. Hopefully, we’ll be in a position to expose him to Europe and some other far-off places very soon. We have, however, been flying back and forth to South Africa over the last 10 years to visit our families and to make sure that Sean understands where we come from and how fortunate he is to be raised in a first-world country.

Given my background of being raised in a third-world country with the sad reality of inequality and historic apartheid, I am very passionate about education and the freedom that comes with proper education, especially for girls.

Although I was not raised on a farm, I’ve been in love with horses ever since I can remember. I bought my first horse once I started working and it was hard to leave them when we moved to the US. I have since managed to accumulate a few more and love to spend time in their calming presence. I met some of my first friends in Idaho Falls through our mutual love of horses and the sport of endurance/long-distance horse riding. Lucky for me, my husband loves animals and although he does not ride horses – he prefers to ride his motorcycles (something without a brain of its own) – he has always been there to help care for the horses and stack many thousands of hay bales over the last ten years.

 

Due to visa requirements, I was unable to work for the first few years in the US. I kept myself busy with volunteering – anything from teaching kids basic computer literacy to helping out on a horse ranch. Now I do legal research whilst trying to figure out the next chapter of my life.