Cheers from below the equator!
After working at the Red Hill township on Wednesday, we had a picnic lunch on the Glencarne beach, which was perfect. We saw a whale! It is a bit early for whales, so it was a pleasant surprise. A few daring students ventured into the water, which was extremely cold. Others were thrown in against their will, but no one’s day was ruined. That afternoon we took a tour of Learn to Earn, which is a non-profit organization based in the township Khyeltsha. Learn to Earn offers courses in such disciplines as sewing, business, graphic design, and woodworking. In addition to these courses, all students were required to take business ethics courses to teach them the basic knowledge of the work environment. The programs can get pricey, but Learn to Earn helps students gain sponsors to push them through. Fortunately for them, but unfortunately for us, many groups had come through and bought out their store’s inventory. We would later learn that one of the groups was another Belmont study abroad program! What are the odds – we actually ran in to them the following day at the District 6 museum.
That night (Wednesday) was a special event for Sam Martin. Sloane and Bess decorated the dining room with balloons and streamers for his B I R T H D A Y!!! We tried to give him a grand surprise, but he peeked in through another door and kind of ruined it. He told us it was his first surprise birthday in his 22 years and we were thrilled to be a part of it. Our excellent chef, Nadine, even made him a chocolate cake with Whoppers on top! According to Steve, a tour guide at the Team House (who could not stop blowing the noise-makers), said it was “Funtastic!”
The following morning, we divided into our respective groups and worked hard till lunch. Our afternoon plans included going to the District 6 museum. District 6 was a mixed race community in central Cape Town. During apartheid, the government decided they wanted to make it a white neighborhood, and so displaced about 70,000 blacks, Coloreds, Jews, Indians, and others, then tore it all to the ground. We were surprised to learn that our tour guide was actually born in District 6! It was yet another reminder that the terror of apartheid went on for years even after our own civil rights movement eased discrimination in North America. Nothing has been built where District 6 once stood. Should the land be given back to the families that were displaced? Or should it be used to memorialize the atrocities committed? These are just a few of the questions we are beginning to discuss.
Following the museum, we lightened the mood with shopping on the waterfront and then dinner. We ate at Marco’s African Place, a high end restaurant with traditional African cuisine. One of the tour guides ordered Smiley, a dish consisting of the head of a sheep, boiled whole. Most of the students were rather grossed out by it, but adventurous LT and Alex tried eating the eyes. They wholeheartedly agreed that it was experience not in need of repeating. Many people had the Pan African Platter for dinner, which consisted of steaks of kudu and springbok, both of which are types of antelope, and ostrich. There was a live band with dancers during our meal, and the dancers got a few of our group to come join them. Sloane and Allison were invited to play the marimba with the band. They couldn’t quite master Old McDonald, but everyone applauded their effort.
Real life is waiting, goodbye virtual world!