Monday, March 14, 2011

We could be a truly compassionate country, where everyone was cared for, where no one went to bed hungry, where everyone mattered and KNEW they mattered. –Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu is the cutest little old man ever.  He giggles at his own jokes before anyone else, squeals from excitement when he has a new idea, and bounces around from his seat to the podium as if he were a sprite young boy.  We had the opportunity to be in the presence of this legendary individual twice this past week, on Wednesday during a speech at UWC, and on Friday in an intimate mass at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town.  His speech at UWC was his last as Chancellor of the university, and it was amazing to hear him discuss the events that took place during his 24 years with the university.  He discussed the major role that the school played in protesting apartheid, and the way the students and professors banded together to shut down the oppressive regime.  It was amazing how well he recalled the events as if they were yesterday, showing just how important they were to him in his life.  Here’s the link to the speech if you want to check it out.

We got to meet Tutu at an early morning mass on Friday.  I was expecting to walk into a packed cathedral, filled with hundreds of people, but instead we went to a side altar and sat in a square seating arrangement around a small altar.  There couldn’t have been more than 75 people there, and it was an amazing way to start the first week of Lent.  The Anglican mass was pretty similar to the Catholic masses I have attended, and when it was time to offer peace to one another, Tutu shook hands with each person individually, offering us peace.  He also gave communion to every person, and took a picture with our group after mass.  Seeing this Nobel Peace Prize laureate twice in two days was a completely surreal experience.

This week was also super exciting at my site.  While I was talking to Mrs. Ludidi on Tuesday, I asked her whether she had any programs or projects that she had ever wanted to do but wasn't able to do.  She told me she had always wanted to start a spelling bee at the school, and send the winners of the Zimasa spelling bee to the big Cape Town spelling bee.  We decided to work together to write up a formal proposal to give to the principal for our idea.  Mrs. Ludidi picked a date for the spelling bee- April 14th, a Thursday so that I could be there.  She also talked with the principal to arrange a big tent to be set up outside so that the parents and families of the students can attend.  The kids are all super excited- they have already started studying the material for it and I’m trying to incorporate the vocabulary into my English lesson plans.  I think I might be more excited for the spelling bee than the kids are…

This weekend was also really exciting for me.  We were supposed to go paragliding on Saturday, but it was cancelled due to the strong winds.  Instead, a group of us headed back to Kalk Bay, my favourite town, to do some more exploring.  We spent the afternoon walking around, making friends with little kids on the beach, watching the seals, and talking to an old fisherman named Joey who had some awesome stories to tell, some of which I imagine were a bit exaggerated.  He told us how they caught a great white while they were fishing offshore and they brought it back after hours of trying to get it in the boat.  When they arrived at the dock, they unloaded the shark, cut open its stomach and Joey laid down inside of it and they closed him up inside the shark guts.  Could totally be true, seeing that there are great whites everywhere, and that seal island (where most of shark week is filmed) is only a few miles away.  I have this feeling that his stories were a bit embellished… I guess fishermen are the same everywhere.  Anyway, Joey told us he would take us out on his boat one day to see seal island…we will see what happens. 

On Sunday, a big group of our housemates went abseiling and kloofing on a huge private estate.  We went with a guide who is friends with our landlord and he took us down 6 beautiful waterfalls, as we followed the river downhill.  At the second waterfall we were allowed to go kloofing (cliff jumping) from various different heights on the rocks.  There was a super deep pool at the bottom, and the water was beautiful, in fact it was so pure that we drank from it all day.  It was such a cool experience, but unfortunately the photos just don’t do it justice.  We arrived back at the house around 8, and we were all completely exhausted and ready for bed.  Weekends here tend to tire me out a lot.  It’s awesome. 

I'm posting some pictures below, here is the public link to my Facebook albums so even if we aren't friends on Facebook, or even if you don't have a Facebook, you can still see the pictures in the albums: 
The Week in Review - I will be uploading more pictures from abseiling once I finish this paper!

Big week ahead- midterm papers due, my 21st birthday, and leaving for our mid-semester trip/safari across South Africa on Saturday.

Until next time. 

Desmond Tutu at UWC

"We are all reaching for the stars. We have not reached them yet... but it is a goal we are about to reach"

Our little friends we met at the beach

Old Man and the Sea

Colorful Boats in Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay Fishing Fleet

Storytime with Joey


The Open-Air Fishmarket

Seals Playing By The Dock

Rosalina- as she is called by the locals


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