Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ostrichs, penguins,baboons,unions and sunburns oh my!

This has been a crazy week,if you couldn't tell from my title. Last weekend we went to Simon's Town which was mostly fun. On Saturday we went to the Cape of Good Hope(The most south-western point on the continent) and Cape Point and did a lot of hiking, had our vans stopped by a pack of baboons who alternated between ignoring us and clambering all over the vans, saw a few dozen ostrichs on the side of the road, and went on one of the most beautiful hikes of my life. Pictures to come as soon as I've got reliable internet.

Sunday also great...a small group of us woke up early to go on a 2 hour kayaking trip in the bay. We kayaked 20 feet from hundreds of penguins and at one point I was just 2 or 3 feet from one,and could've touched it. The water here is beautiful-really clear-but freezing. There's kelp everywhere so it reminds me a bit of the Oregon coast. In the afternoon, after kayaking, we all lounged on the beach, where the penguins were swimming in the water with us. If you couldn't tell I still haven't gotten tired of seeing them. I ended up getting a really horrible sunburn on my back,and the back of my legs and I was sore for the rest of the night.

Monday and Tuesday I was sick-a combination of heat stroke and eating too much wheat(I think. I'm pretty sure this allergy or whatever it is, is getting worse).So that was unpleasant,but my homestay family took really good care of me,so that was nice.On Tuesday morning we went to the District 6 museum which was really interesting. District Six is the area where a lot of "colored" and black families were physically removed to make room for white development during apartheid. Since 1994 those that previously lived there have been trying to reclaim their houses and there's been a bunch of legal battles, although 24 families have been moved back in to newly developed homes. The woman who runs the center was fascinating and used to be very active in her union. She's going to be a great contact for my research at the end of the semester-she said she'd introduce me to a lot of strong women union activists!

Wednesday was NGO day where we each got assigned to a different NGO and spent a few hours there learning about what they do and making connections. My group got assigned to the Human Rights Media Centre, which is an organization that takes oral histories and puts them in to a variety of medias. They do all kinds of things, from oral histories of families who were killed during apartheid, to stories of women & their daughters, the International Apartheid Lawsuit,etc. It's very interesting. One project that I was obviously interested in was the "Labour Pains of the Nation",which is stories of 8 women workers. They ended up giving me a copy that's not for public distribution and telling me how I could order more(they're the equivalent of US $5 each) and I thought we could possibly use them as a fundraiser or something for JwJ?! Anyway,I also talked to them about bringing some of their traveling exhibits to Portland at some point. The woman who runs the program is going to get me some more contacts within the labor movement.

I've been having such a hard time keeping track of everything that's been going on/doing everything that needs to be done. And if you couldn't tell,I'm just trying to get as much out of my head to clear room for all the new stuff. I haven't had internet access in the classroom for some reason and now my normal email isn't working up...grrr. the future: Saturday is our homestay party where we perform little skits for our families, next Friday we fly to the Eastern Cape and begin our rural homestay.

Yesterday I got an email with all of the information about my next semester abroad in Vietnam and honestly, it's a bit overwhelming at the moment. I've got to fill out & send in all these forms from South Africa, I'm hoping they can waive some of them. I've also been reading the information about the country-we aren't required to bring our computers and in fact they recommend we don't, we do 3 homestays, two of which are with another SIT student, and overall it just sounds very different from this program. I think it will be a great experience and I'm really looking forward to it. That being said, I'm not ready for this to be over,although I am ready to have a bit more freedom from our Academic Director Shane who's recently been driving me crazy...more on that later.

Sorry for the hurried and confusing description of what's been going on. I want to keep everyone in the loop.

ndiyakukhubula (I miss you)

1 comment:

  1. Great news about making contact with strong, African activist women. These contacts will be golden for you in coming years.

    Hope your sunburn stops hurting soon -- but that means the itching will follow!