Hello Everyone !!! :)

Here begins my South African Adventure! Enjoy 😀

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Day #14

Our final day began with meeting the staff behind Sozo foundation in the township of Vrygrond.  This non-profit organization creates opportunities for holistic development through education, skills, youth and wellbeing. Their programs include Educentre, Eden, Design, Care and Youth Cafe – all involving skill development, empowerment through various tools and knowledge, career-building initiatives and exposure to further education opportunities.  It was amazing to see how the community was involved in much of the planning, building and creation of the site.  

Afterwards, we drove to Muizenberg – a quaint beach side suburb that I would love to spend more time exploring!  I ate at Hang Ten Cafe, where I had the best burger of my life 🙂 with a side of freshly pressed juice and an ice cream cone!

Next, Pam, Kelsie and I ventured into Green market where I bought an elephant scarf in memory of my mother (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and will wear it and think of her, as well as the amazing time I had in South Africa!!!

We finished the day at the Western Cape Provincial Parliament to participate in their Youth Cultural Exchange event.  The Cape Town Ghoema Minstrels performed a few songs followed by the talented, Dylan Farred who played a number of acoustic songs.  We were then welcomed by Minister Alfred Fritz and all his staff members, recognizing the great work and partnership Dr. Clarke has created over the past 16 years.

I would like to end by thanking the wonderful staff at our hotels, the various activities, Pop-pop ❤ (our driver), our new, welcoming South Africans friends and a huge thank you &&& I already miss you to ‘DC and his ladies. .  .’

alyea; our passionate poet with such a kind heart and wild spirit, best of luck with your new job!
amber; our beautiful, bright smile that lights a room, embrace this new chapter in your life – you’ll love it!!!
darcella; our wise soul, i have learned so much from you in these two short weeks – you inspire me to have such passion in my pursuit of becoming a professor!
joyce; our peace-sign holding, innocent individual, you always keeps the positive vibes around 🙂
julie; our miss rose who lit-up at the sight of smiling children, you will be an amazing teacher!
kait; our heartfelt artist, who took every experience to heart and will become such a caring educator!
kelsie; our bold thorneberry, always ready for the next adventure and you will do great with your next one in michigan
maddi; our co-pilot, right-hand woman and cultural lover!  i am excited to see where you will go next 😀
molly; my roomie, new mother-to-be, i am so happy to have spent these past two weeks with you by my side – literally 🙂 and can’t wait to see the new addition to your family!!!
pamela; our amiga hermosa, with such a beautiful voice and amazing vision, best of luck with your doctorate!

&

dr. clarke; our leader, our inspiration, the man of all hours! I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to be part of one of the best experiences in my life!  I am so blessed to be part of this amazing group of individuals who I know will change the world!  Thank you!!!

Day #13

 Today we attended a lecture at UCT with the students we were with on Monday.  We first broke up into groups with members that went into the different townships and off-campus sites.  I teamed up with two students who went to Eerste River, and two others that went to Valhalla Park and Monwabisi Park.  One by one we discussed the roles that active citizenship, history, knowledge, networks/partnerships and contesting issues/strategies played at each site.  We next regrouped as a whole class and presented our findings on the two questions: 1) Key learnings that the group would like to share; and 2) How the partners (sites) helped you think about yourself as active citizens?  

Throughout my group members’ off-campus sites, we felt the strong importance of partnerships.  Success cannot be achievement if developers to do ask what the communities need.  Community involvement is essential to addressing the key issues.  Another key learning was to consider the history of the community as this plays a role in moving forward.  History can teach us a lot and should be a factor involved in achieving gains within the communities.  Becoming an active citizenship begins with building a strong sense of community.  Get involved and see how your skills and interests can be utilized within your town/city/school/community!  We found that if we want to see change, we must create the change ourselves.  Our off-campus sites were great examples of how small communities can bring big change!  Often, we cannot wait for something to happen, we must get things done ourselves!  Lastly, being an active citizen means being aware!  Awareness can help us see the world around us and help us find our role in being an active member within our communities! 

The lecture ended with a presentation from Magali García-Pletsch on Border Crossing, specifically the Mexican-American borders.  She spoke about how these physical infrastructures create social infrastructures and how developers must consider how their projects may affect others and the society while meeting the needs of the community.  It was fun attending another university’s lecture and meeting such kind UCT students going through their service learning experience just as we are!

Day #12

Amy Biehl was a graduate from Stanford University and recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship in 1992.  She traveled to South Africa where she was working towards the future of a multiracial democracy by assisting in elections as well as the inclusion for women and children’s rights.  She was a researcher for the University of the Western Cape and was on her way home after dropping off three black students in the township of Guguletu on August 25, 1993.  A group of young men acting in political mob violence killed her just two days before she was to return home to the states and were sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.  They only served five years when they participated in the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Linda and Peter Biehl, Amy’s parents supported the TRC and amnesty for the four young men, resulting in their release from prison and later employment for two of the perpetrators.  In her honor, they established a non-profit organization, Amy Biehl Foundation in 1997 where programs involve developing and empowering young individuals within the townships of Cape Town.  I was honored to see these great programs in action, from the youth skills development that provide job training initiatives to foster transferable skills to earn money to after-school programs involving art, sports, music, HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, reading, computer skills and outreach projects.  

I call myself a forgiving, understanding person… however, today I was truly tested when I met and spent the day with one of Amy’s perpetrators who works at the foundation.  Would I have forgiven this man?  Could I take it a step further and work side by side with him?  Would I ever be able to call him my colleague or even a friend?

I honestly do not know.

Day #11

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University of Cape Town
UCT is South Africa’s oldest university and has become a leading teaching and research institution.  The diverse study body is comprised of nearly half of UCT’s 20,000 students who identify as black and just under half females.  Today, Kait and I were grouped with seven engineering students, led by a humanities student who are all part of a course centered around Global Citizenship.  Two members of the Salt River Residents Association (SRRA), Nadia and Warda conducted a tour around the town along side Naeemah Sadien, the Project Support Officer of the Development Action Group (DAG).  

Background
Salt River:  The 2011 census stated Salt River has over 6,500 residents comprised of nearly half males (49%) and females (51%).  Over 45% of the individuals identify as ‘colored’ (a term still used widely in South Africa), 40% Black African and 15% as either white, other or Indian/Asia.  The socio-economically diverse inner city suburb is undergoing City-driven urban renewal strategies and framework.  These changes are followed by poor implementation, lack of enforcing development management tools and regulations resulted in exclusionary development.  As a result,  property values slowly increased largely influencing rental and housing affordability in the neighborhood giving rise to social activist groups taking to the streets in demonstration.  This demand for property in Salt River increased the rate of market-led displacement while squeezing out the poor. Actively participating in neighborhood development is necessary to re-align revitalization frameworks to meaningfully guide future development.  This process would include using a bottoms-up urban governance process to flag cumulative impacts incurred on the community.

SRRA:  The organization was initially established out of the Woodstock Community Police Forum (WCPF) to decrease crime in the neighborhood.  Social well-being of the neighborhood was being threatened by crime and needed to be addressed by the organization.  A resident neighborhood watch was also established.  SRRA addresses the following issues of problem buildings, vacant plots, homelessness, evictions, neighborhood Integration, sub-letting and other municipal related complaints.

DAG:  A non-profit organization committed to making a difference in the lives of the urban poor.  They work throughout South Africa to fight poverty while promoting integrated urban environments. DAG’s vision is “to create sustainable human settlements through development processes that enable human rights, dignity and equity.”

Walking through the town, you immediately felt a strong sense of community.  Nadia, Warda and Naeemah demonstrated such passion and advocacy for their home town.  “Life is all about change and we have to make it work for us,” they stated.  They continued by saying, “human development is important; it’s essential, but [should be] in harmony.”  Their message was clear, they know there are positive changes that can be made in their community.  However, when these changes encroach on public spaces, create traffic and disregard the community, it is disrespectful.  The rapid gentrification of Salt River does not take the needs of the community in consideration – creating a lack of inclusion.  At the end of the day, we must remember that people’s lives matter, not money.

It was quite an experience to see this strong sense of community across all ages, religions and gender.  Every person we met along our tour expressed their love and advocacy for their home town. The importance of active citizenship and being a good neighbor is clearly seen in this suburb.  An UCT student reminded us that it takes a village to raise a child and Salt River is a prime example of that village.  Warda ended by saying, “I don’t have the right to complain if I’m not trying to make a difference.”  This allowed me to think about how I can make changes in the ‘areas’ of my life that I am unhappy with. Instead of complaining, how can I make a difference?

Enjoy the artwork above within Salt River, just as I did firsthand 🙂

Day #10

FREE DAY 😀

  • Nine mile jog around the Three Anchor Bay and was greeted by runners in a 21k race as part of the Festival of Running
  • V&A Waterfront to pick up some curios and eat lunch at the Food Market = Nachos from Mex it Up! 🙂
  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to walk across the Tree Canopy Walkway and read my marathon book
  • Back to An African Villa to relax and bum around

Day #9

DISTRICT SIX MUSEUM

The Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town was established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers and immigrants in 1867.  This vibrant, close-knit community was drastically affected by apartheid in the beginning of the twentieth century when the process of removals and marginalization began.  Black South Africans were the first to be forced out and displaced from the District in 1901.  On February 11, 1966, the Group Areas Act declared the land a white area by forcibly removing more than 60, 000 people to barren outlying areas known as the Cape Flats.  Their houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers and their lives changed forever.  

The District Six Museum has shared the memories of the District Six experience since December 1994.  Here, our tour was led by Abu – former resident of District Six prior to his family’s displacement.  He shared his life within the community: the music, sports, and humor.  He spoke with passion about his neighborhood, how they respected each other and how they honored each other.  He ended by reminding us that we need to stand up to others who may try and make these horrible events happen in the world.  Likewise, Abu told us that people can take your house, your furniture or all your belongings, but they “can never take your knowledge [away]!”

ROBBEN ISLAND

This island holds much history, but is mostly remembered as a prison, specifically a Maximum Security Prison dating back to 500 years where criminal and political leaders were sent during colonial and apartheid rule.  The punishment began by divided the people based on race, class, gender and ethnicity while denying basic human rights.  Often, the tours are conducted by ex-prisoners, however our tour guide was an young, 27 year old advocate for the equal rights for all South Africans.  The  knowledge he had for his country’s history was admirable.

V&A WATERFRONT

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is the longest working harbor in South Africa and began as a small jetty, refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company  built by Jan van Riebeeck in 1654. Over 24 million visitors a year, only one-fourth of those visitors are tourists.  I enjoyed the the Food Market with my Tunisian panini.  We walked briefly through the Watershed and headed to the mall.  This long day came to an end with a delicious almond praline ice cream cone. 🙂