Our inaugural entry in the Richards Center Student Blog comes from one our undergraduate History majors, Amanda Fellmeth. Amanda currently is in the Semester at Sea program, taking classes while cruising through the Atlantic and encountering various countries and cultures along the Atlantic rim. This is the first of a two-part entry on Amanda's excursions in South Africa.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
South Africa, Part I
South Africa has so far been wonderful. I am at the safari now, but that will be the content of my next post, cause I can't fit them all in one post.
On my first day in South Africa, I went to Khayelitsha, which is a township by Capetown. It is where the blacks had to live during apartheid and where many still live today. It was an interesting mix of a place. There was certainly a massive amount of poverty. There were also, however, really great projects and innovative NGOs and people that were really making a difference there. We went to Philani Nutritinal Center, which teaches women how to weave and make beaded decor, all while providing their children with food and school. The crafts are then sold to the public and the money pays for the training and the schooling. Talk about a fair trade purchase. It was really cool. The complex we were in was actually really modern and well-kept, and I later learned that Archbishpo Tutu had paid for it to be built.
We then went to craft malls, which is where women who make all kinds of things sell them to people. I talked with some of the women about how they learned this all, and how they are getting by with these skills. We also saw two different B & Bs that are run in the township, that encourage tourists to stay inside the township, in hopes that they will bring revenue to the area. It was all very interesting. Then, we went to a city run park, that was beautiful. There was a free internet cafe, a career services place, a community building, soccer fields, and the best part, a completely well-lit pathway system that runs from the train station to the back of the township, so people don't have to walk in the dark. The city also hires security guards for the area at night.
My friend Rudy and I were there together in the park, and we started talking to these two little boys, who started singing Justin Bieber to us! It was so cute and then we were filming them and singing with them. Then, a woman comes over to us, and the one boy says that its his mom, so Rudy puts the camera away, and we were a little nervous that she would be upset with us for filing her child. Instead, she gives us the biggest, warmest, most genuine hug I could have imagined. She sat with us and talked with us for a while. It was truly heartwarming. I would love to go back and work more closely with some of the groups there.
The next day, I hiked Table Mountain with a couple other girls. It was an experience for sure. We packed a picnic lunch and ate it at the top. It was reallygreat to just eat cheese and crackers and hummus for a bit. A nice change from ship food to be sure. I was really happy at the top and quite proud of myself. Look up this mountain, its high! Plus, I got some great pics!
Alright, I'm gonna leave you hanging for the rest of my trip is South Africa. Hope all is well at home!