Monday, June 4, 2012

First few days!

Oh my goodness. Where do I start.

So our plan to explore London failed; my flight from Newark got delayed and I ended up getting to Heathrow really late and then I went to the wrong terminal and couldn’t find Emma… so yeah. I spent most of my time reading though, which was nice. I finally found “The Swerve,” by Stephen Greenblatt, in a bookstore in Newark. It’s such a great book!

Awkward moment #1 happened on the first plane ride! I was asleep and I guess sometimes when I sleep I flail my arms around, which I didn’t know. So I fell asleep on the plane, only to be woken up by a startled woman next to me … and then I saw that I was inches away from slapping her in the face.  

I love airports. I did a lot of people-watching in Heathrow. I saw these two monks in their robes and got really excited, but then saw that they were looking at kindles at an electronic store. 

I dislike very few things in the world, but the idea of a kindle may be one of those things.  I completely understand how convenient it is, but I think there’s value – significance – in being able to fold and underline and have a physical text in front of you that portrays important ideas. Books are important.

Ever since self check-out aisles at supermarkets became a thing, I’ve been a little weary of too much technology.


The flight to Cape Town was SO nice! There was such a difference in atmosphere compared to my flight to the U.K. Everyone was talking on South African Airways – “Where are you going? Where are you from?” – it was so noisy, in a good way. People were so friendly. My first flight, however, was just … quiet. I don’t know. I guess more people mind their own business in our side of the world.

I met Emma at our gate (finally!). Our luggage arrived safely, thank goodness (I have another fear of losing luggage). We were greeted by a Connect 1-2-3 person and were driven to our apartment building.

OUR APARTMENTS ARE SO NICE. Here’s our view from the living room:

I met my roommates, Milou and Sarah, on my way up. Milou is from the Netherlands, and Sarah is from Sweden. They’re really cool people :)

I got a chance to unpack and shower, and then I went to orientation. Orientation was really overwhelming, just because there’s so much to do here, in such a small amount of time. The people and places and overall culture seems so fun, and warm, and exciting.

After orientation, a bunch of us went out to dinner. There were 16 of us, and we all managed to squeeze into two cabs. The place, called Rick’s, seated us on the top floor, which was kind of an open veranda type thing - it was more of a lounge with couches and a bar. It was a nice place to eat and still be social with a large group of people. There was this big heater in the middle to keep us warm – although the weather was surprisingly nice. I left with the first group to go home, because the 30+ hours of travel was starting to hit me.

The next day, we went to the Waterfront and met a lot of people from our program on our way. It was nice exploring Cape Town during the day. There were lots of street performers and musicians. 

I had Ostrich for dinner, and it was SO GOOD. We ate outside again, and we had such a lovely view of the pier. They also gave us blankets! 

And then! The next day was the first day of work. Me and another intern, Noni, met a guy who’s been here for a year at 7AM to walk to the train station.

The trains in South Africa are kind of crazy. There are no signs or announcements or anything about what stop you’re in/what stop is next. We just look for landmarks to figure out where we are. Also you have to open the door yourself at the stop. Oh man. Who would’ve thought that the Path and the subway system in NYC has spoiled me, haha.

Anyway! The school! Everyone is super friendly there. I was kind of awkward because the students have mid-term exams this week, so there was not much for me to do. I did get a chance to meet some students and faculty, though, and was greeted warmly. I’m really excited to actually start working.

I had lunch with the principal, Bonisile. There’s this diverse, family-like feel amongst the faculty.

OH another awkward moment: Bonisile and I were working towards his car, and, I, the American, am still used to the driver’s seat being on the left side. So he entered the right side, and I kind of followed behind him on the right/stood there/didn’t understand what was happening. Oh goodness.

I have SO much to say about what I learned about South Africa Education. I ended up helping this administrator organize articles in one of the offices, so I got to read a lot.

(you don’t have to read the rest if you don’t want to hahaha)

The school that I’m working in serves underprivileged black students – it’s a private school, but it’s free for the students. There are these big exams, the Matrics, that determine a student’s eligibility for college. Just recently, there has been a huge increase in the amount of students that have passed, but it’s because the standards became a lot lower. So there’s a lot of debate about how a lot of students who aren’t prepared for college pass still – but how maybe that’s needed for people who don’t have the opportunity to practice for these big exams.

Also, there’s the whole affirmative action debate here, too. It’s so interesting because apartheid was just recent; it’s so much more fresh of a wound here.

The weather has been beautiful, though, and the people have been more than wonderful. Ahhhhhh okay. Until next time. 

No comments:

Post a Comment