Sunday, June 10, 2012

School, Long St., Shark Diving

AHHH there’s so much to talk about! I made subheadings so you don't have to read it all if you don't want to :)


Every Tuesday at school, there’s a ‘community meeting,’ where the student body, faculty, and staff just meet and talk about whatever issues are pertinent to that current week. It started off by everyone standing up and singing this really, amazingly beautiful Xhosa (I think) song. They have such wonderful voices.

Then we sat, and students would stand up and present ideas/reflections/arguments. It was so nice to see how maturely and articulately they spoke, and how confident each student was. They have such wonderful voices.

Even in class, the students are SO enthusiastic and eager to participate. It is so much fun to see. In a grade 10 English, we analyzed a John Donne poem, “Death Be Not Proud.” The teacher, Kira, asked what they think happens to us after we die, which ignited a really interesting discussion about religion - everyone was so open/accepting/understanding. Kira is an atheist, and most of the students were pretty religious. They asked me what I believed in, which is probably the most complicated question to ask me, I think. I said I was agnostic. 

After talking to the faculty, I learned that LEAP students are from the Langa Township, some from extremely impoverished areas. I know that sometimes I sound way too ridiculously overly-optimistic about everything, but I think learning the stories of these students has made me even more optimistic/hopeful about humanity. I've realized how real suffering could be, but also how much can be saved; how much happiness could be achieved; how education can play a role in that. The education system in SA has SO many problems, but seeing these enthusiastic students in class everyday is giving me some hope. I've also realized how hard it is for the faculty sometimes, but I wish I were here for longer than 2 months. I'm just so frustrated with suffering and want to learn things and change things and fix things and teach things (I really want to go on about this but it would be too long).

On Thursday, we had staff meeting. I was expecting yknow like an agenda and administrative stuff – but it wasn’t like that at all. We all sat in a circle, and just talked. One thing that I noticed in SA is that everyone here is so open – to talking about everything. Community meeting and staff meeting were perfect examples of that – people here are encouraged to reflect, to figure out their stance on any issue, and then to assert themselves.


Long St./Eating Crocodiles/Shark Diving

On Thursday, we had Drinks Night with everyone from my program, Connect 1-2-3. It was really fun! It was just SO weird drinking with faculty, like my program coordinator. Idk. But it was really nice meeting new people – almost everyone is doing different internships in Cape Town, so it’s cool being able to talk about different work experiences.

Anyway! Friday night we went to watch a documentary at the waterfront, and then we went to Long Street, which was just this … long street, lol, with bars and clubs and stuff. There were so many people, everywhere – and we kept running into Connect people, too. It was a really nice environment; there's so much more appreciation for music/just being able to dance.

And then! On Saturday, we planned to go to Robben Island, but it was sold out – so we just went shopping at the Waterfront. That night, to celebrate Daniela’s birthday, we went to this restaurant called Mama Africa – I had crocodile, ostrich, springbok, and kudu (antelope). Idk, I figured I may never be able to eat this kind of stuff anywhere else, and plus we were going shark diving the next day, so …

Great White Shark Diving! Okay. This was actually kind of a disaster. But a fun disaster. The boat that took us was really small and there were REALLY high, strong waves, and … I got seasick. Which is weird! Because I never get seasick. But it was cool because Jessica got sick too and we spent most of the trip throwing up from the railing, sometimes on the sharks. I kind of felt bad.

We finally felt okay for a short enough time to put on wetsuits and actually go diving though! So we got put in a cage, which was under water, where we were amongst the sharks and the fish. It was beautiful! It was so nice to be underwater, everything was so quiet. And the sharks were so cool! I’m so happy someone told me about how evolutionarily advanced they are, because I appreciated their features a lot more. We were so close to them! It was kind of scary in the beginning. I didn't take photos, but so many others did!

I can’t believe we’ve been here for 10 days! Time is so strange. 

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