Since I have so many people I want to talk to and so little time on the internet, I’ve given in to the idea of a blog. Cross your fingers I actually keep it up!
In a quick recap, things are going well! I often find myself picturing a world map and pinpointing where I am on it: Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Isn’t that wild?
In a longer recap: the whole trip so far, and it seems it will continue to be this way, is full of surprises and uncertainties. What will we be doing when “working” in the clinics, schools, etc.. is something we wonder about daily. Not to mention wondering who our driver for the day is supposed to be and, more importantly, if they’re gonna show up.
We started off strong with 24+ hours of travel (including the first of many games of Frisbee in the airport), we ended up at a campy (note the –y, it is very much not the camp I know) place at the end of a very long dirt road. During orientation all of us 14 students spent our time doing team building activities, seminars and the like, sharing our “rivers” (stories of our lives), and aggressively hanging out. Our second night there, five of us were playing soccer in the lodge at two am when one of the boys said, “guys, my journal’s gonna be so lit tomorrow!” Essentially: people are fun, playful, “lit” (our favorite group adjective), and like to journal and write poems. They also talk about music 85% of the time. (yikes!)
We also took some trips out of our temporary home to adventure in a canyon, see monkeys (!!!) and birds, and take a nature “hike” to our first beach! We separated for the first time last Thursday to move in with our host families. My friend Quinn and I moved into a home in the Crags, a township outside Plett. We have a mom, 27 year old sister, 12 year old brother, Aunt (who sometimes appears), cat, and two dogs, one of which is absolutely tiny. Also notable, our host mom and her six sisters run a kindergarten from our house during the day!
On Saturday, Quinn and I went with our host sister to a college graduation party in which everyone else showed up literally two hours late, and we listened to people give speeches in different languages about this girl. Very different from other graduation parties I’ve gone to, but definitely interesting.
Side note: we learned that in South Africa there is a difference between black and colored people, and that, unlike in the US, that is not an offensive way to categorize people. In fact, our host mother told us about how great it is to be a colored person because “you never know what the baby will look like! The color of their skin!” Let me clarify: colored people have one white parent and one black parent, or two colored parents. For our media project in South Africa, my friends Saoirse and Sophie and I are going to research how race affects health care in South Africa.
On Sunday, our group went on another “hike” to another beautiful beach where we hung out for a while before having our “mento” group meetings (essentially mentor groups with students and one program leader).
The past four days, I’ve spent the morning “working” in a clinic with my friend Benji. The first day we had a very brief orientation before we spent the morning on our own calling patients up to get their weight and blood pressure, and test their urine and blood sugar. Only at the end of the morning did we learn that not every patient has to have a urine and blood test…. Whoops!
Tuesday and Wednesday, however, the clinic has had essentially no work for us to do so we’ve been sitting around talking, reading, and listening to music. Today we spent our time sorting files! It’ll definitely be interesting to see how they use us in the future, and hopefully we’ll get to do more cool things like on Monday!
This weekend we are hoping to go clubbing with our host sister and explore Plett!
Last of all, I wanna recommend two books!! 1) Half the Sky which we refer to as “the woman book” and 2) Mountains Beyond Mountains about this totally unreal guy who started Partners and Health. It’s wild. (We read a lot).
Hope you’re all doing great and weren’t too bored by this blog post! Xoxo