Friday, February 20, 2009

3 weeks

So today we've been in the country for exactly three weeks! It feels like it's been at least two months though. I'm at home here and although I miss my friends, family & Max a lot, I'm content. I'm learning so much about myself & my view of the world, as I'm sure you could all tell from my last post.

Lets see...what's been happening lately? Yesterday was Schools day when we all got to go to a Cape Town high school for the morning. I went with three other girls to Garlandale High School, a public school in the mostly middle class neighborhood Athlone, right outside Rondebosch, where our classes are. We started off the day by going to an assembly where someone from Life Choices, a USAids funded organization, told the school that they were offering free HIV/AIDS testing & counseling to anyone that wanted it. That in itself was just awesome even though the principal told us she didn't think very many people were going to go in. We were assigned to follow a girl who had recently immigrated from Iraq, which was a fascinating random occurance! I attempted to talk to her a bit in Arabic, but I sadly couldn't remember much.(Random side note: I really want to practice my arabic & spanish this summer as well as keep up my Xhosa in Portland,I hope I can!) The first class she took us to was basically a sex ed class. The first part of it was really great: the instructor (A young man from Life Choices) asked them questions about transmission & symptoms of HIV & STIs and the students knew all the right answers. These were most of the same things you'd see in a US classroom. But then he started talking about how important abstinence & virginity are...he used some metaphors like a woman should not be a stadium, letting men practice on her; how virginity is the most important gift you can give your future husband or wife, etc. This was really interesting,and I disagreed with it,but at the same time I was thinking about how important safe sex & abstinence can be in a country where 25% of the population has HIV/AIDs. That being said, I'm not sure abstinence before marriage is the right seems like safe sex and introducing all the options is a better idea, not shaming those who do have sex. But sadly we didn't get to talk to any of the students about this because we had to go right to our next class.

We went to a biology class and a math class before we had to leave. Neither classes were that noteworthy,but after class we talked to the math teacher for a while and he had some really interesting things to say, such as the fact that he thought the end of apartheid was good,but that it also took away some good programs,especially within education.

In about 3 hours we're headed to Simon's Town, a tourist, navel town on the coast. It should be fun, it's basically just a vacation from school & our homestay families, so I'm planning to spend a lot of time on the beach, just relaxing.

Next weekend we have our homestay party where we put on little skits to thank our homestay families. We haven't really started ours yet...We only have two more weeks in the Langa homestay, then we head to the rural homestay for a week, the Stellenbosch homestay for a week, the Bo Kaap homestay for another week, then our ISP period starts! I'm so excited for that.

I posted more pictures and now all of them have captions:
Lila's travels

Love to everyone,


  1. Hey Lila! I miss you greatly but it sounds like you're having such a good time. I found what you said about the sex ed class really interesting; I can imagine that a population where STI's are at such a higher risk than in the US must have lots of differences in moral values than we do. I hope you had a great time in Simon's Town too!


  2. Isn't it amazing how the values and mores in a society are influenced or even preordained by our very different lives and circumstances? In the human condition we share so much -- self-consciousness, sense of community and its relation to our survival, human empathy, compassion and, of course, almost identical dna. And yet we come to utterly different interpretations of, and adaptations to, our realities. Only by living among one another can we grow in true understanding and compassion -- and you are doing just that! You are so lucky to be on this excursion of growth and learning. And to also get a tan! Wow!

    Missing you very much but so very happy for you,