it’s the end of the semester as we know it

As this unbelievably life-changing semester is coming to an end… I struggle with how to put into words my thoughts on the overall impact it has had on me. I’m going to revisit this topic a little later, once I’ve finished up these final papers I have due, but for now – I’m going to share an exercise that we did in my Transitional Justice class back at the first of April and compare it to how much has changed since then. Our professor, Tyrone Savage, asked us a series of questions and asked us just to write our own private, truthful answers to them. He did it to have us really look at what our experience had been so far here in South Africa… and as a way to get us thinking about how the trip is doing to us, for us and how it’s going to affect our future.

1. Is there anyone you’ve met during your time here that you have had to consistently deal with that you despise?

-Yep. (I’ll leave the name out). Everytime this person talks, I want to claw my eardrums out. This person’s not friendly, self-involved, and really obnoxious. This person doesn’t know how to step outside her narrow life & view of the world. However, maybe it has been not seeing her for a while or seeing how she really doesn’t have many people that like her, but I’m starting to feel sorry for her.

2. How can you work to manage this relationship in a healthier way?

-It would help if I sat and considered why this person is the way he/she is. It reminds me of the kids at camp and the reasons I loved working with them – they’re raised by money and nannies, never being shown true love or how to be loving. I could make an effort to get to know her and understand her circumstances.

3. Who is someone you would like to spend time with that you haven’t?

-Maybe Chris – I’ve tried several times, but it hasn’t happened. I’d like to talk to the French – Gabon guy. But really – I won’t be devastaed if I don’t with either, but it would be nice. Oh – BRIAN! I want to see him again and get to know him better. And I would like to meet more South Africans.

4. What is one thing you would like to do that normally you wouldn’t?

-skydive   -learn to surf    – KLOOF!   -abseil table mountain

5. What is the worst music you have heard here?

-um… not a big fan of like…. polka. Oh, wait, in South Africa. None has been really bad really.

6. What is the best music you have heard here?

-Leona Lewis! House music is good for dancing – house techno

7. What is the worst meal you have had since you’ve been here?

-Ew, those small dishes of eww’ness at that Kurdish restaurant in Cape Town (Mesopotamia). I’m not a fan of the sausage here at all. I also don’t care for all the sauces they put on everything – it’s all so sweet.

8. What is food that you like here?

-the mac’n’cheese here is so delicious! I don’t like it in the states, but wow it’s good here. LOVE the wine. PIZZA!!! absolutely my favorite thing here. It’s so fresh, all the ingredients are just so mmm fresh. Braai’ing!! I love to braai.

9. What is some racist behavior you have experienced, if any?

-the way people talk about coloureds/black
-the owners of Springbok (bar/club) are notorious for being openly racist… and I can’t understand how everyone just accepts it and keeps returning there
-The tension and separation between the races is so high. Rarely ever do South African whites and blacks/coloureds interact. Cassidi and I went to a club one time that we heard was fun, and we walked in and were stared at. Someone said, in a very negative way, that the club was for “white girls who hang out with coloured guys,” like thats an insult.

10. What do I want to do if I find myself in a racist situation?

-I want to say something, to stand up for what I believe in, not just walk away. Even if it doesn’t change the person’s minds or beliefs, I don’t ever want to back away from it. I want to confront that kind of blatant racism.

11. Is there anyone you have met that you want to give something to before you leave?

-I don’t know… I’m scared I’ll leave here and realize I haven’t really been touched by anyone. I made friends, had fun, but I don’t know if I’ll have been really moved by people/a person. I have been in the townships, and I would definitely like to donate any clothes/food that I don’t need to Kayamundi or one of the other ones. I may also leave stuff for the housekeepers in Concordia.

12. What is one thing you would like to be able to put on your CV that you did during this time?

-volunteering with an HIV/AIDS prevention/education group or something similar. I’d also like to be published here – Cape Times or something else.

13. What are you missing most from home?

-Buffalo wings…. but really, nothing much. Nothing really (excluding the obvious family and friends).

14. Have you felt any new career options since you’ve been here?

-I’ve thought more seriously about TV Writing… looking at different graduate schools… I had an encounter with the Women’s Studies department at Penn that at first really upset me and then made me realize that I don’t want to do graduate school in English or at somewhere like Penn. I don’t want my writing to be in the academic world, for the academia, I want to write in the real world, contribute to popular culture.

15. What is the most beautiful thing you have seen so far?

-The Cape Town ocean line from Table Mountain… The Potholes on the Panoramic Route coming back from Kruger to Johannesburg. Lion/giraffes – this is a hard question. Even just the sky – it’s all so beautiful here.

16. What are your top 3 strategies for achieving justice in post-apartheid South Africa?

-reparations for the oppressed/victims of aparthei
-EDUCATION! Economic — tax increases on wealthy. Redistribute wealth to create more balanced playing field to help eradicate some of the extreme disparity created through aparthei
-create government programs that offer new work opportunities – open up the job market

17. Where do I fit into these?

-writing about these issues, creating/sparking dialogs about the vast poverty and unequal social conditions
-talking with people here, understanding their stories


The last two were more about our particular class. A little on this evening, after I push through another paper, I’ll return and answer all the same questions now and see where I ended. See if I met my goals.

Published in: on May 18, 2008 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Tax increases, that is mad. The 4 million whites in SA already have to support over 40 million blacks who pay no taxes.

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