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Work Hard, Play Hard

by Kelly Mitchell

Hallo!

I know my last blog was not as long as I wanted it to be, but I’m blaming it on the jet lag.

We are just finishing up our second week of courses!  Time is flying.  South Africans study hard and play hard, that’s for sure.  Everyday we are busy, which I love.

To start of this week’s blog, I want to talk about the courses here.  All of us in the program had to take the Political History course the first week.  I was not excited to take this class, at all.  But, our professor was amazing and the material was more interesting than I thought. Our Political History course ended Friday, so we celebrated by going on our first excursions last weekend.

On Saturday, we had a full day of adventures.  Our first stop was Cape Point in the Table Mountain National Park.  It was about a 20 minute hike (more like walking up hill) to get to the very top where there is the lighthouse.  The view was unbelievable.  The ocean is so clear and blue.  I must say South Africa is winning me over just on their scenery/views alone.  We stayed at the top for awhile taking pictures then we heading back down to our bus for lunch.  We hopped on the bus to drive to see the Cape of Good Hope.  This is not the most southern tip of Africa, which a lot of us thought- that’s later in the trip.

After about an hour, we headed back on the bus to drive to Boulder’s Beach.  PENGUINS!  Cute penguins were everywhere.  You couldn’t go onto the beach with them but we got pretty close.  Some penguins actually started biting at my friend’s feet while we were walking by.  The day, up to this point, had beautiful weather – 65 degrees and sunny.  Then the sun started to go down and it was freezing.  Almost unbearable, so our penguin beach trip was cut a little short.

Sunday, we had a township visit.  We went to Langa and Gugulethu.  We met up with “tour guides” from the Langa township who were raised and still live there now.  They kept talking about the sounds of a township compared to other communities.  People were talking, singing, dancing, and playing.  It was so refreshing.  The people of the township are so proud of where they come from so they love when people come see their way of life.  We learned that some even move back to the townships, even if they have jobs and more money.  I met two adorable young girls, who love the peace sign (you’ll see in the picture).  We had the privilege to go into a woman’s home in the poorest part of the township.  One very small room had a stove, bed, luggage to store her clothes, and a table that held her toothbrush, food, cleaning supplies, basically all the essentials.  All in that one space.  It really opened all of our eyes to see it firsthand.

We then went to Gugulethu – which is a popular township because of their history.  The Gugulehtu 7 were seven young men who fought against apartheid.  They were brutally, publicly murdered by the police. Amy Biehl, an American anti-apartheid activist, was also murdered in Gugulehtu. We were able to see both of their memorials in the township.  To end the day, we went to a “brai” (BBQ) place in Gugulethu called Mzoli’s.  It was all you can eat meat and beer.  My kind of place.  For a Sunday at 3PM it was packed.  Dancing, DJ, live music, everyone was so friendly.

This week’s course, for me, was HIV/AIDS and  it has been very interesting.  We went into a support/counseling clinic for sex-workers and were able to talk with them.  We have our exam tomorrow.  I must say, the classes are tough.  We almost don’t do anything within the week because we are writing papers or studying.  But, like my title says: we work hard and play hard here.

I am running, which is making me happy!  The trails are awesome here.  This week a lot of us came down with a cold but I am getting over mine.  Can’t believe I’ve been here for 2 weeks…

Children who live in the Langa township.

Children who live in the Langa township.

Boulder's Beach: PENGUINS

Boulder’s Beach: PENGUINS

Climbing rocks at Cape of Good Hope.

Climbing rocks at Cape of Good Hope.

Awkward picture but I'm excited!

Awkward picture but I’m excited!

Fail at a group jump photo

Fail at a group jump photo

Top of Cape Point

Top of Cape Point

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View from top of Cape Point

View from top of Cape Point

 

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