At the start of 2007, Nate traveled to South Africa to celebrate the grand opening of Oprah's Leadership Academy for Girls. Now he's sharing highlights from his once-in-a-lifetime trip, as well as the design inspiration he gathered along the way.
Touring the new school and its facilities proved to be a special highlight for Nate. He says he was touched not only by the talented young girls who will be attending the academy, but by the level of detail, attention and love that went into the construction of their space.
From the beautifully furnished dorm rooms to the artwork commissioned by South African artists adorning the walls, Nate says he was moved and inspired by the beauty of the architecture, design and décor of the school. "It was so striking emotionally, aesthetically, on every level," he says.
Nate also indulged his passion for local arts and crafts at an open-air craft market in Johannesburg. The diverse array of handmade objects included beadwork, wood carvings, objects made from tusks, and zebra hides—which Nate points out are not an endangered species.
On New Year's Eve, guests enjoyed a spectacular party to not only ring in the new year, but also to celebrate Oprah's dream-come-true. It was an evening full of emotion and pride, Nate says. So much so, that when the clock struck midnight, he says "everybody in the room burst into tears."
"We sat and we cried and we congratulated each other on making it another year and doing everything we'd done, and everyone had the best wishes for everyone else in the room," he says. "But I think the reason it was so emotional and not just a fancy party was that everybody was aware that we were all part of this incredible movement—this incredible destiny—that Oprah had talked about and planned for the last six years."