Before interviewing the girls, she is on her way to see the first manifestations of her dream, the place she is preparing for them. One hour south of Johannesburg, past the old gold mines to a sleepy village called Henley-on-Klip, the academy sits on a 52-acre site suggested by the Department of Education. A year ago, it was mere foundations. Now it's a full campus with 28 buildings nearing completion. At first glance, the effect is an unusual combination of functionality and elegance. The architecture has African roots, quiet, earthy, beautiful. The bricks, chosen by Oprah, echo the soft gold of the sand on which the school is built, making it seem as if it sprang up organically from the earth. It belongs here, the way Oprah feels she does.
This is a school built with love. There is a path called Street of Living to the dormitories, and another, Street of Learning, to the classrooms, symbolizing the merging of life lessons and academic study. "You can't avoid passing the library," Gayle says, who accompanies Oprah on a tour of the campus. With Oprah's deep love of books, she has created the library she wished for as a girl, arranging plush seating around a welcoming fireplace, "so the girls can read by the fire and spend time there with their friends."