Wow so much has happened! Two Saturdays ago we went into Plett for the day to work on our media project at the French café place. After we ended up going to Kranshoek, one of the townships that some other students live in. We ventured to the edge of the township, and hiked downhill towards the ocean. We watched the waves from rocks and talked about life (typical), and went cave exploring! The caves were super dank, and we saw quite a few bats.
On Sunday we piled into the van and headed to Robertson, a town in the winelands of South Africa. Super pretty. We lived in a really nice hostel all together, which was great! It would be exhausting if we lived all together all the time, but it’s super fun when we are together.
In Robertson we did similar “work” to what we do in the Plett area, for a NGO called Breede River Hospice. In other words, we followed around community health workers (slightly different from hospice “carers”) and visited patients. However, the focus of community health workers is supposed to be data collection, and each has just a few patients. Data collection involves knocking on people’s doors and getting information about how many people live in the household, if they have TB, and so on. We also had presentations on the science of tuberculosis and medicine for it, as well as from a member of Breede River Hospice’s palliative support leader.
We also went on a “river cruise,” which was fun but definitely not made for teenagers. The boat seemed hand-made (?) out of wood, which was pretty cool. We got to dive off of the second “floor,” which was dope. After that I asked the PLs if we could get ice cream, at which point they told us we were going wine tasting. I still wanted ice cream but decided to play along… a few minutes later our van pulled into a wine brewery (if that’s what it’s called??) and we unloaded into their lobby. Weirdest wine tasting ever. After like 10 minutes they gave us each a little bit of white wine to taste. What they failed to do was tell us what we were drinking, and how we were supposed to “taste” it. Then they did the same thing with some red wine. Then we left.
A few minutes later our van pulled into another parking lot, at which point we were informed we were going cheese tasting. We went into the store (way more a store than an actual cheese place or restaurant or anything) and after ten minutes of waiting they came out with a platter of small cheese cubes, again with absolutely no explanation or naming of the cheese. A true lol. Fortunately, a couple of people bought a liter of ice cream which I happily devoured on the journey back to the hostel!
Sorry, I just really needed to share my feelings about that totally unimportant and insignificant situation.
Some other things that happened in Roberston: a seminar on what a proactive, international response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic should look like, a 30 minute run (please be proud, I really need to exercise), lots of girl’s bonding, and a bit too much staying up until 3:30 am, thx matt (tbt to high school and the GHS lib).
On Friday afternoon we packed up again and headed to Cape Town for “Independent” Student Travel (IST)!! For our first IST we were assigned a PL to help us figure things out. My group was me, Saoirse, Sophie, Maddy, and PL Chris. We got an Air BnB in the heart of Cape Town and had a very busy and very short weekend. On Saturday we went to three museums: the District 10 museum which talked about the removal of black people from their homes and into townships during apartheid, the museum of natural science, and an art museum. My favorite was the art museum, which had a lot of really great and interesting art with focuses on apartheid and the effects of apartheid. I like a lot of the pieces, but the only one I can remember the name of is fuck white people, which you can find at fuckwhitepeople.org .
We also fed pigeons, squirrels and ducks in the park-like place whose name I forget. Honestly, the biggest culture shock I’ve experienced on this trip was those squirrels who were so used to being fed that when Sophie and I leaned down and pretended to have food in our hands we were instantly surrounded by six squirrels who would come up to our hands and sniff for food. I also fed pigeons out of my hand. Wild (not literally…)
In the evening we walked around a neighborhood known for it’s colorful houses and went to an “African Mall” which had some cool paintings, clothes, figures, and so on. We ended up getting a drum lesson from a man from Mali, and we can now drop some sick beats… We also went to dinner at a “Mexican” restaurant, where my nachos were Doritos and they were covered in tomato sauce. Yum!
Most importantly, on Saturday, October 22, 2016, I drank my first ever coffee. I fear I’m an addict already. Scary, we’ll see if I can keep it under control.
On Sunday we hiked Table Mountain, which is right outside of, if not in Cape Town, with the whole gang. It was way too difficult, please pray for my fitness (Machu Piccu here we come!!). It was also super cool and fun because of fun people who also aren’t in shape. The top was really pretty and cool, although it was really strange because the view was a city and there were a ton of people up there because it’s very touristy and there’s a cable car that brings people up.
After, we went to the waterfront which had cool stores. I bought purple hair dye, but I lost it. Shame. I also got a GoPro selfie stick, so get ready. On Monday morning we went to the botanical gardens which was really nice. If anyone was wondering, Sophie loves ferns! Unfortunately, we had to leave pretty soon to head back home to Plett/the Crags, a nice 6 hour car ride.
This week I’m working in a school in one of the townships, Kwanokathula. The students there speak Khosa, their local language, until third grade. In third grade and beyond, the classes are taught in English. Naturally, this transition is very difficult for some students. Unfortunately, if they don’t catch on to English quickly enough, school becomes very (very) difficult for them. We work in fourth grade classrooms, each about 40 students, and correct their work books. It’s a lot of fun and I love it, but it’s stressful because there are so many students demanding your attention at once. It’s also sad because there are so many who don’t understand what they are learning at all.
The students each have a workbook for math and English, and there’s not much chance for individual attention or corrections from the teacher. In our math class the first day, I came to the realization that, despite the questions all focusing on weight measurement, about half the class didn’t understand that 1 kilogram is equal to 1,000 grams. When I tried to explain the concept of “kilo” they didn’t understand, and the English barrier didn’t help. They also didn’t all understand that one gram weighs less than five grams, which either has to do with the English barrier and/or a lack of understanding of the concept of weight. They also struggled with adding and subtracting, whether that means relying on only fingers for some, or struggling with big numbers. For example, 2,000 + 32 doesn’t equal 232. Or 210 – 120 doesn’t equal 190.
Yesterday morning we had an English class, in which some students were very close with all of their answers, and some were writing complete nonsense, and didn’t understand any of what we were trying to explain. I kind of wish I could work in the classroom for the rest of our stay here, but that doesn’t quite fit in with our focus on public health…
To all you camp people: I taught my class some camp songs this morning! Call and repeat all the way!
Thanks for reading!! XXX