This was the quote of the day at a little bakery in Observatory, the neighborhood I’ll be living in for the duration of my stay in Cape Town. It was written simply on a chalkboard, with no author after it. This quote struck me as particularly pertinent to my life, as I had just moved in to a house thousands of miles from where I call home. It was one of those things that seemed like there was someone out there reminding me to cherish this opportunity and take it for what its worth, while also reminding me that home can be as near or as far away as I want it to be.
These past few days in the house have been absolutely amazing. I have gotten so close to the 19 people I’m living with that it’s hard to believe that we all just moved in 9 days ago. Rather than write a 70-page post about what I have done since moving into the house, I figured I would steal an idea from one of my housemates’ blogs and just list it all. If anyone has any questions or wants an elaboration on anything, let me know. In no particular order I have:
-Visited my service site- Zimasa Community School in the Langa township. A school with 1340 students and 40 teachers that has 2 computer rooms but no library. The school has students from grade R (kindergarten) to grade 9. I will be volunteering here twice a week starting Tuesday, and although I still have no idea what I will be doing, I’m looking forward to starting service.
-Toured the sites of my housemates, as well as the townships they will be volunteering in
-Visited museums in downtown Cape Town: the Museum of Natural History, the Slave Lodge Museum, and the District 6 museum- District 6 was a diverse community with people of all backgrounds peacefully coexisting until it was declared a whites only area in 1966. Everyone who was black or colored was forced from their homes, which were later bulldozed. Our driver Pearnel gave us a tour of the museum, he and his family lived in the area until they were forced to leave when he was 7 years old. When I asked him what race he and his family identified with, he said “the government says we’re colored. I say ‘I’m not colored, I’m colorful.’’’ So true.
-Toured South African Parliament
-Seen Nelson Mandela’s cell in Robben Island, while being guided by an ex-prisoner who was jailed when was 19 for protesting educational reforms, and released 5 years later. I also finally finished A Long Walk to Freedom. Read it if you get a chance. Mandela is a genius, and his life story is truly spectacular.
-Watched UWC men’s rugby dominate in rugby- it was incredible to see a stadium PACKED with people there to watch a college rugby game!
-Experienced class registration via waiting in extremely long lines (made me miss StagWeb)
-Went to UWC international student orientation
-Walked to the Old Biscuit Mill- an AMAZING farmer’s market every Saturday
-Gone to the beach, and swam in some rather cold water.
-Experienced nightlife in a foreign country with a group of 19 Americans
-Taken part in an impromptu drum circle at a bar- where I played a didgeridoo for the first time in my life!
-Eaten South African traditional foods- springbok, ostrich, oxtail, kudu, and traditional beer
-Sat through my first class in South Africa- a class on African history taught by a man from where else but PHILADELPHIA!? I just traveled over 7000 miles to learn from those with a different point of view than my own, and in my first class I have a teacher who grew up less than 300 miles away from me. Ironic. He seems like he knows a bunch about African history though. He lived in Namibia for 12 years teaching before going to the University of Cape Town to get his Masters. The class seems like it will be fun too- we will be studying different colonization patterns throughout the continent.
-Met phenomenal people who are warm, welcoming, and LOVE their country and who cannot wait to share it with everyone. The pride that these people have for their country is mind-blowing, and after two weeks here I can already see why.
Courtyard at Zimasa
My Roommate Catherine and I on Signal Hill
Signs at District 6 Museum
Pearnel, Our Driver, Pointing to His Family Name on Display at District 6
Sitting At Parliament. No Big Deal.
On Robben Island with Table Mountain in the Background
Confines of Robben Island
Nelson Mandela's Cell
Entrance to Robben Island
That’s about it for week one in the Kimberley House. Big plans for a Stellenbosch wine trip this coming weekend. Stay tuned ladies and gents.