After 15 weeks in and around Cape Town, my semester abroad has come to a close. Through the ups and downs, home-stays and excursions- I’m walking away from this experience with a full heart. The best part of my semester? The kindness and love each family extended to me, taking me in as their own daughter. Showing me the interior of their daily lives: their culture, their religion and their way of life. Living with a family is a unique experience that teachers a new way of life, and perspective of the world we live in. These families have shaped who I am- I am forever grateful for their compassion and willingness to both teach and learn.
My last month in Cape Town has been incredibly busy, the highlights are as follows…
Wrapping up my independent study project. After a month of research and analysis, I completed a 45-page report on the current state of access to higher education from Cape Town’s townships. My research took the form of interviews, working with four distinct demographics: township students in high school, township high school educators, first-year university students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and university educators. Each population was interviewed in regards to their position on the issue of access. Findings revealed that the doors to higher education are slimly open, providing very little access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Since the apartheid era, the 1950s to mid 1990s, much has been done by the government to provide equal education to all of its citizens. There is still a long road ahead before this country truly lives up to its constitution that states, “the doors to learning shall be opened.”
Exploration of SA. Over the course of my month-long research project my friends and me took some time to explore the city further. Weekends at Mzolies- a township-wide braai full of music, dancing and meat. Visits to our old families and meeting my sisi from Langas new baby- her name is Apalale and was beautifully born in early April. Relaxing at the beach, soaking in the best of the SA sun. River rafting on the Bredee River north of Cape Town. And best of all- exploring the city’s nightlife. After living with families, under our mama’s house rules we were craving to see a little more of the city after dark. Afrika Burn- a weekend spent up north in the Karoo desert. The artists, poets, musicians, commoners and lunatics meet annually in the desert for an unforgettable weekend. Days of interactive art, sculptures, writings, self-expression, trance music, costumes, music on wheels, make-believe and FIRE. I also decided to chop off 11 inches of my hair to donate. It was time for something new!
Swimming with a shark. Friends and I ventured into the waters off the coast of Cape Town for a swim with a great white. Our boat anchored next to Seal Island, which is home to 65,000 seals, a feast for great whites. We went cage diving- swimming in a cage while a 3.1m great white shark circled us. It was an incredibly exhilarating experience. On our way back to shore our captain spotted a pack of over 600 Common Dolphins. We slowed and watched as these incredibly smart animals swam and jumped alongside our boat. Absolutely stunning.
Mom comes to eKapa! After my program ended my mom flew over from Ohio to visit me in Cape Town. Although we had bad weather and just a few days- I gave her a whirlwind tour of the city. We visited the best of the best in Cape Town: my old neighborhood in Bokaap, Green Market Square and the city-center, Old Biscuit Mill, Robben Island, the Waterfront, Camp’s Bay, hiked Lion’s Head and visited my family in Langa Township. Our few days ended with a group dinner, all the SIT students who stayed on with their families who came to visit. It was a wonderful weekend showing off the city and giving my mom a glimpse of my life in Cape Town.
Today I said sobonana to Cape Town and headed north. We arrived in Kigali, Rwanda for about two weeks of traveling. We will be visiting a number of local communities as well as national parks. It should be quite an adventure! Stay tuned for a few more words and photos from Rwanda.