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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Updated

I added two new posts about our roadtrip to East London/Cintsa and one about the final two weeks of school. I posted them below my entry about this chapter ending because I thought that would be a better order. So scroll down to read these entries. I will be posting about our coast to coast roadtrip and Festival before I leave Thursday morning.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Chapter Finished...


Today I finally realized that I'm actually going home in 3 days. I can't believe it. Festival is over and all the visitors are gone; Grahamstown is back to normal, which is only making this ending more difficult.

It sounds stupid, but today we went to our favorite coffee shop for the last time and said goodbye. It was a killer. We were there EVERY DAY except Sundays and over the last month we had become very close with the family who runs the shop. Mad Hatter's is our spot - everyone who knows us knows this. People don't believe that we spend as much time there as we do until they see our interactions with the staff. Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our favorite waitress and this morning we enjoyed our last snack of cake and coffee with the owner. They gave us beautiful books of Grahamstown. They wrote us personal notes in the front; it was very sweet of them.

I also had to say goodbye to a good friend this morning which is really sad. Although we had a real love/hate relationship he definitely helped shape my experience here. It was sad saying goodbye. I was in res for the last time today, as well. The last 6 months of my life were spent in the residence halls of Rhodes University and today I walked through the halls for the last time. I can't believe it.

It seems so premature for the next chapter of my life to begin, or to resume in this case. As ready as I thought I was for home, as the time is approaching I'm realizing how scared and sad I really am. The thought of not waking up to the sounds of South Africa is devastating. I know that I've grown up and changed a lot since I've been here, but I'm not ready to face this changes in my normal surroundings. I can't expect myself to fit in the space that I left myself in the States. I'm sure that being home is going to be bittersweet and I'm prepared for that, but I don't think that I'm going to be prepared for the reversed culture shock that I thought I wouldn't have.

Grahamstown is an amazing place, as is the rest of South Africa. I couldn't have asked for a better study abroad experience. Here I am saying goodbye to a place that has become home. How do you do that? I know I'll be back, but I also know that it won't be soon enough. South Africa has been a dream come true.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

First Two Weeks of June

After returning from our trip to East London/Cintsa I had a lot on my plate. When I got back to my room I found it an absolute disaster. While I was away my 350lb package of donations from the States had come. Since the package was so huge they couldn't fit it through the door so they had to unpack it and individually put everything into my room. It was a mess and I had a lot to deal with. In one day I was able to separate everything and box it up for all the organizations I was taking it to. The following two days I worked with Dani from the Rhodes Centre for Social Development (where the volunteer program runs out of) to distribute my items throughout the township. It was a really rewarding experience. I got to meet a lot of the people who the supplies were going to affect.

One of the places we went to we had just randomly passed. Dani, who works with all of the organizations in the township didn't know this preschool, but we went in anyway. As I explained to the woman there what I was doing she started to cry.

"It's as if you knew," she said.

"Knew what?" we asked.

"That this is all we have left," she replied. She walked through the crowd of 25 or so toddlers to grab a tupperware container. She handed it to me. Inside were 3 broken crayons. I was so grateful for the support I got at home that enabled me to provide for this school. It was wonderful. "Can we take a picture?" she eagerly asked. And we did.

Once the distribution was taken care of I had to focus on getting ready for Festival. I mounted all of the printed 8"x10" photographs on 5 squares of cut foam board. It was so tedious. I had to cut them all with scissors because I couldn't find an X-acto knife here. It was awful. After they were all cut I had to spray mount them all on. In total I did almost 50 pictures on my own. Then I solicited Tracie's help (the American from VA that lives in my res). She read me the women's stories and I typed them to be printed for the exhibit. It was great hearing their stories. The women opened up so much.

After that was completed I actually had to study. Since I only had one exam this wasn't too bad. I just had to do a little reading and preparation for art history.

Grace and I also got to visit the boys at Eluxolweni. I had extra cameras from my project so we took three up there and let the boys play with them. They took a lot of fun pictures.


1.

2.

3.

(1.) Sine's self-portrait (2.) Simphiwe's self-portrait (3.)Siyavuya and me (at his request)



The week of June 9th I just studied and packed. Neither were fun. I took my art history exam on June 11th and it went well. On the 12th I picked up Dave from the PE airport and we began our coast to coast journey which I will post about ASAP.

Road Trippin': East London and Cintsa (May 24-31)

During SWOT week (campus exam study week) Grace, Sonya and I rented a car and drove from Grahamstown to East London and then to Cintsa. East London is a small city about two hours from Grahamstown and Cintsa is at the bottom of the Wild Coast, an area of untouched beaches on South Africa's east coast.

At first it was crazy driving on the "wrong" side of the road. It was hard to get used to, especially when turning. The drive to East London was super long, but we had a lot of fun on the way. Grace made a roadtrip CD with great sing-along songs like "Summer Lovin'" and "American Pie". On the way we bought a pineapple from one of 50 women selling them on the side of the road. The fresh pineapples here are amazing!

Once we finally got to East London we got super lost searching for our hostel. Eventually we found it. We were given our own little cabin on the top of a hill. It was cute and perfect for us. We had dinner and headed for bed.

The next day we decided to go shopping. We laid on the beach for awhile then headed to the mall. East London was a lot like Port Elizabeth: a small city on the beach. It was really nice having the freedom of having a car. We walked around the mall for awhile and just had a little bit of a girl day. We decided to cook dinner that night at the hostel so we picked up some pasta and bread. We got back and made ourselves a feast! It was delicious. Afterwards we sat around watching TV and drinking wine. A foreign boy on crutches came into the common room and started talking to us. It turned out he was from Portugal. He had hitch-hiked from Portugal to Senegal, then flew from Senegal to Johannesburg. I couldn't believe it. He was telling us about his injury, as well. He was in Coffee Bay and jumped down 3 steps. He slipped and broke his leg in a few places. It was left untouched for almost a week and then when his insurance company finally got their act together he was airlifted from Coffee Bay to East London. His insurance company was paying for him to stay at the hostel and receive physical therapy in East London. It was a pretty crazy story. He was a really cool guy.

In the morning we woke up early to go to a lion park to play with baby lions and then to go sandboarding. The whole day it was the 3 of us, a guide and a random British couple. The group of us got to be pretty friendly by the end of the day.


The lion park was very cool. We got to play with baby lions. They were really cute and a lot of fun. There we also got to feed a giraffe, play with a "baby" cheetah and play with a meercat. The cheetah was really scary. It was running around its pen and going crazy. In the pen with it was a wiener dog. The guide said that they were best friends and that the dog didn't want to be anywhere else except with his best buddy, the cheetah. In my opinion this was not the case. That "vienna dog", as they call them here, was doomed. That cheetah was waiting for us to leave so it could eat it! In the cheetah pen the 3 of us looked like big babies. We kept screaming and hiding behind the guide, Rocco. The cheetah was all riled up and it's the only cat that cannot retract its claws - that was pretty unappealing to me. I honestly thought that the headlines were going to read: "Three American college students mauled by 'docile' cheetah". It was terrifying, but it was still a lot of fun. In the end the cheetah calmed down a bit and let us pet it. That was nice.


After the lion park Rocco took the 5 of us sandboarding. I had seen sandboarding on TV before, but never saw it in the States. This was something that Sonya really wanted to do so Grace and I went along. It ended up being a lot of fun. It was a lot like snowboarding, but on sand. We got to the dunes just before dusk so we were doing it as the sun set. It was beautiful. The dunes were gigantic! I had a really good time.
Afterwards we decided to cook another feast for ourselves and our new friends. We invited the British couple, Portugal and Rocco. When we got back from sandboarding the three of us hit the showers. As Sonya and Grace were finishing up in the shower and I was outside of the shower in my towel talking to Portugal the electricity just shut off: load shedding. We were so angry. We had to go to the grocery store to get more stuff for dinner. As we were driving there we realized that all of the traffic lights were out, too. Driving was insane. No one was following the correct protocol; everyone was just fending for themselves. It was so scary. Luckily we made it to the store safe and sound. We got back and cooked our meal and everyone joined us. We sat outside on the deck and enjoyed a great meal with great company. During dinner it was still load shedding time so we ate by candle-light. We all stayed around the table until late talking, eating and drinking wine. It was a great time.

The next morning we woke up and drove to Cintsa. As previously mentioned, Cintsa is at the bottom of the Wild Coast. It was a beautiful place. It reminded me a lot of Matoaka, a place on the Chesapeake Bay where we used to vacation every summer. My parents would have loved it. We stayed at Buccaneers, a hostel that was made up of a bunch of cabins and cottages. There was also a pool, two bars and a nice dining area. It was a great place to stay. We had our own little cottage with a cute little sitting room and kitchen. It was nice. The first night it was just the 3 of us in the cottage, but the next night two older women from Canada/Netherlands who were literally traveling the world joined us.


[View from our cottage]


Our first day there we just read in the cottage and eventually made it down to the beach. Every night the hostel had a big meal for all of the guests so we ate with everyone - the food was delicious. The following day we decided to go on a 22km bike ride through Cintsa and a traditional Xhosa village. The ride was through the mountains overlooking the coast. It was INTENSE and our guide hated us - as usual. In the Xhosa village we met Mama Tofu. She was an elderly Xhosa woman in charge of her village. She was wonderful. She taught us a lot about growing up in a Xhosa family as a girl. It was really interesting. After the village we really hit the road and drove through the mountains. It was rough! We finally made it back to the hostel after 3 hours - I was so happy to be back! After our exhausting morning/early afternoon Grace and I just wanted to relax and read until dinner. We sat by the pool, read and had lunch. It was great.

On our last day in Cintsa we just sat around and read/relaxed all day until the late afternoon when we went on an elephant-back safari. That was interesting and a lot of fun! We rode the elephants through a game reserve. At the end of the ride we saw zebra and giraffe from the back of the elephants. It was really cool, but the elephant was uncomfortable to ride. It was really hard to keep your balance, especially when going up hill. It was worth it for the experience, though.




On Saturday (May 31) we woke up VERY early and drove back to Grahamstown. We made it back a lot earlier than expected so the 3 of us had breakfast in town, dropped off our bags and Grace and I went to Port Elizabeth to return our car.
All in all we had a really great trip. I enjoyed the trip a lot and it was a welcome distraction from studying.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Yet again we've had a change of plans. Seems that we've gotten ourselves on "African Time" and we waited too long to book our bus tickets. By the time we went to do so it was too late and the next available bus isn't until the 8th.

This isn't actually all that bad. I love Grahamstown and wasn't quite ready to leave. I am upset, however, that we won't get to see Kruger before we leave, but now we're on a mission to see lions! Because of this we'll be here for the rest of Fest which is nice and we'll also get to celebrate the Fouth here, which will be fun. I'll be back to South Africa, anyway and I can see Kruger then.

I've written out all of the entries I haven't yet posted, so they'll be up soon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Still Here...

It's been forever since I've written and I have so much to write about, but I just wanted to quickly write a note saying that I am indeed alive! I'm in Grahamstown, recently back from a coast-to-coast adventure. It's Festival time and it's going well. The exhibit was featured in the Festival's news/review publication Cue today. Read the review here.

I'm leaving Gtown on Thursday and I board the plane for America a week later. I can't believe it. It's all so bittersweet.

I'll post all of my other stories ASAP.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Plans have changed for this week - Grace and I were originally supposed to head up to Kruger/Mozambique this week, but due to the ongoing violence that has swept the country we've decided to postpone our plans. Instead we're leaving tomorrow for East London for three days and Cintsa (at the beginning of the Wild Coast) for another three days. We'll be spending a lot of time outdoors, relaxing, enjoying our week of before exams. I'm excited for this trip. We've rented a car and Grace, Sonya and I are leaving in the morning and then our friend Isabel (she's a South African Rhodes student) will meet us on Wednesday and go with us to Cintsa. It will be nice to have a girl's week!

We will still be going to Kruger/Moz. We're going to go for a week in July, the week before we head home. We'll fly up to Johannesburg on July 3rd and spend a few days in Nelspruit/Kruger/Blyde River Canyon and then a few days in Moz and one day in Johannesburg before flying out on the 10th. I'm glad that we've gotten to have our cake and eat it, too. Although we're upset to not be up there now, it's definitely better safe than sorry and we'll still get to see two really great places in the Eastern Cape, away from the violence.

I'll update and post pictures when I get back on Saturday!

For more info on the situation here visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7416256.stm

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Exhibition is Official!

Today the booking kit for Festival was made official and put online. The project, Defined by Four Letters, is now listed with a venue. The venue is just up the road here, so it's not far at all. It's actually only a block from the Raphael Centre, which is good for the women. They can get a ride to the Centre then walk down from there. I'm very excited that this is ACTUALLY happening. I had my doubts along the way, but it's for real now! The photos are on their way, as well. I picked up the pictures from the first camera today. They're pretty good. I'm excited to get the rest back.

To see the Fringe Booklet from Festival: Defined by Four Letters, page 40.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pictures & Narratives

Yesterday I gave out the cameras at the Raphael Centre. The women were all very excited. I also gave them an assignment to write about life with HIV/AIDS. I wasn't expecting the narratives back too soon, but today when Grace went up there to do her English class two of the women gave her their papers saying that they "stayed up late" to do their "homework." I never expected them to take it so seriously, although now I'm glad they have. I've posted pictures from when I gave out the cameras and the two narratives on my other blog. Click the link below to check everything out.

Art for AIDS Blog

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Winding Down and Gearing Up

The semester is over a week from Friday. After that we have three weeks of exams beginning May 31. I cannot believe how quickly things have gone by. It’s crazy. I only have one more paper due (thank God) and then I’m done until exams. I only have two exams (thank God, again). I have a take home exam for my WAC seminar and then an art history exam on June 11.

Grace and I have planned a trip to Kruger National Park (supposedly the best in all of Africa) and Mozambique for a little over a week. We’re leaving May 24 and flying up to Johannesburg. From there we’re getting a ride to Nelspruit (outside of Kruger). We’re then spending one night camping in Kruger which should be incredible. We’re also visiting the Blyde River Canyon which looks a lot like the Grand Canyon. I can’t wait. It looks incredible up there. Then on the 28th we’re taking a Greyhound into Mozambique and staying in Maputo until the 31st. On the 31st we’re taking the bus back to Nelspruit, staying there for the night and flying back to PE on June 1st. I’m really excited for this trip. It should be amazing and certainly an adventure. We get to take our malaria pills which excites us for some reason. Also, we get to see our first country outside South Africa, which is an amazing opportunity. On top of that we will get to see our first lion! How stereotypically American (according to South Africans). What can I say? I want to see a lion in the wild!

I’ll then be in Grahamstown from June 1st to the 11th. I have my exam on the 11th then I pick Dave up from the airport on the 12th. We’re then spending two days in PE on the Indian Ocean, then another two days in Addo National Park (the closest national park to where I am). On the 16th we’ll come to Grahamstown to pick up Grace and the three of us are roadtripping to Cape Town again on the Garden Route. We’re stopping at a few of the places that we stopped at last time, but for the most part everything is new. We’re spending our first night in Jeffrey’s Bay because we loved the hostel last time and they cook great South African food. It’s jus t a great place with great people and a lot of fun. The next day we’ll go to Storms River to do the world’s highest bungee jump. I’m really excited for that. We’ll stay there for the night. The next day we’ll stop in Plettenberg Bay for lunch (I found this to be the most beautiful place I’ve been here). From there we’re going up to the Cango Caves which are supposed to be fantastic. They were recommended to me by a lot of people, so I wanted to see them before I headed home. After that we’re going to Cape Agulhas, the lowest point in Africa – where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet – to go whale watching, as it will be whale season. We’re then staying there for the night. The next day we head to Cape Town for four days. In Cape Town we’re going to do everything we didn’t do before – the Cape Peninsula, Robben Island, general exploring. We also have to pick up things we neglected to get before. I’m really glad we’re going back. My last trip to Cape Town didn’t end well, so I’m hoping this will make up for it. On the 24th we’re taking an overnight Greyhound back to Grahamstown. Then it’s time for Festival!

Those are my plans for the next month or so. I’m really excited for everything that’s coming up. It’s going to be a lot of fun and great experiences for everyone. I can’t believe that we’re already halfway through May. I’m going to be home before I know it, which is both bad and good. I can’t wait to be back at home. I miss a lot of things. But at the same time, this places feels a lot like home now and it will be hard to leave. I don’t want to say goodbye to the Eluxolweni Boys, and the Nyaluza kids and the women at the Raphael Centre. It’s going to kill me!

This experience has been life changing, but I don’t know if I’ll fully appreciate the magnitude until I go home. We’ll see. Until then, there’s still a country to explore, fun to be had, an exhibit to prepare and kids to teach.

Holiday in Hogsback










The WAC Kids in Hogsback - our last trip...



Friday after Nyaluza the WAC kids h
eaded up to Hogsback in the Amathole Mountains for the weekend. I was really excited to get away for the weekend and this was our last trip together. It was a great trip, probably the best of all.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel. There were two people to a room so Grace and I were together as usual. We got a nice bathtub so we were able to relax in the bath, something that I haven’t done since leaving in February. It was nice to sit in the bath and read. We got to relax a little upon arrival. Then we got to go to dinner. It was AMAZING! It was buffet for starters and dessert and then you had a choice for your entrĂ©e. It was so exciting. Also, we had free reign on drinks and the wine list. We got a ton of wine and got to charge it all to Rhodes. It was beautiful. We were toasting up a storm since it was our last trip together. It was a lot of fun. We sat around the table for a few hours just laughing, telling stories and having a great time. Ashwin joined us later on and we just continued the party. It was great.

The next morning we rose early for breakfast (buffet again, delish!) and then headed out for a morning of hiking. We started with a walk to a waterfall close to our hotel. It was called 39 Steps. It was very pretty, but nothing compared to the others we saw during the day. Then we headed out for a long hike. We started by going to the “Big Tree,” a tree that’s supposed to be 800 or so years old. It was a big tree. The hike down there was a rock scramble so we were tripping all over the place. I had to slide down this big rock on my butt and for the rest of the day I was filthy. It was a lot of fun though. Then we headed to our next waterfall, Swallowtail Falls. This was a lot bigger than 39 Steps and the hike was a lot more intense. We sat at the bottom of the fall looking up and realized that we could go higher so we hiked up to the top of the fall. The view was incredible. We could lay on the edge of the fall and see the water go down to the bottom where we had been before. It was beautiful. From there you could walk back up to where we started. On the way we passed a field of cows. It was pretty random. Before lunch we drove to the Madonna and Child waterfall. This is the biggest in Hogsback. There were wooden steps most of the way down, so it didn’t seem that bad. When we got to the fall there were a lot of Rhodes students doing some sort of science class. The fall was big and gorgeous. The water was freezing. On the way back up we had to climb all of the stairs again. It almost killed me. It was so much harder going up than it was going down. It was pretty rough. After our strenuous morning we headed to a pub for lunch.

After lunch everyone wanted to go horseback riding, but due to my extreme allergy to horses, I couldn’t go. I got dropped off back at the hotel and go to relax and do a little work for school.

When everyone got back we got to have another delicious, wine-filled meal. It was even better than the first night! I was a happy camper. Again we sat at the table talking until the restaurant closed. It was a lot of fun. After dinner Grace, Sonya and I cuddled in bed and watched some really random movies. It was nice to relax and forget about school!

Sunday morning we had another buffet breakfast (yes!) and then headed out to do another walk and see more of Hogsback before we left. We went to Hobbiton. Since Hogsback is supposedly where Tolken got his inspiration for the Lord of the Rings (most likely untrue) there is a Lord of the Rings themed walk. Since I know nothing about LOTR this was just a pretty walk for me. Then we headed to a place called the Edge where there was an incredible viewpoint and a labyrinth. It was amazing. Grace and I sat at the edge of the cliff for awhile. It was beautiful. There we also go to do some shopping. Hogsback is famous for its jam so we were able to pick some up to bring home. Before lunch we went to the Eco-Shrine (www.ecoshrine.co.za). It’s this beautiful artwork set on the edge of a mountain overlooking Hogs 1, 2 & 3 of Hogsback. From there you could see the Madonna and Child waterfall. It was incredible. The artwork is about connecting humans and their environments. It was a beautiful piece that combined painting, mosaic, relief, sculpture and natural elements. I thought it was fantastic. In fact, I decided to incorporate it into a paper I had to write the following day.

We left the Eco-Shrine and got lunch at the Edge. It was nice to relax before heading back to student life. The weekend was fantastic, a great getaway and a nice distraction from all the work that we have to do here.



For more pictures with descriptions see my Flickr page

Where in the World is … South Africa?

Bright and early Friday morning Grace, Kevin and I headed to Nyaluza to teach English and Geography. Grace and I had prepared worksheets for our classes during the week and we were looking forward to being like real teachers!

I was teaching eighth-grade geography. I wanted to assess how much the kids knew about geography since last time they looked perplexed when we were talking about locations on a map. To do this I made three worksheets. The first focused on the seven continents and five oceans. I thought this might be too easy for the kids, but it would be a good jumping off points. The second worksheet was an unlabeled world map. I listed eight countries that I thought would be easy to find on a map: South Africa, the US, Russia, China, Australia, Brazil, England and Italy. I asked the kids to put the corresponding number on the country. The final worksheet was a map of South Africa. I then asked the kids to label the nine provinces, the two oceans and two interior countries. Then I listed five major cities and asked them to name the province where the city is and asked them to name a city that is on the Atlantic and a city that is on the Indian.

I was worried that these worksheets might be too easy for eighth-graders, but I thought it would be better to have them too easy than too hard. Once the kids got working on the first worksheet (oceans/continents) I realized how wrong I was about them being too easy. The kids were having the hardest time with this and we had to give them a word bank. A good amount of kids knew where Africa was, but one kid label Asia as Africa. We did our best to help them out and still encourage them to figure it out for themselves, but it was really tough. The next worksheet was even worse. Most of the kids couldn’t figure out anything but South Africa. They had no idea where America was. The only reason they could figure out Australia was because of the previous worksheet. Then one kid had a tin pencil case with a labeled world map on it and he started to use his resources. We encouraged this. In the real world if you don’t know where some where is you go and look it up. This kid was doing the same thing. We only have a little bit of time with them, and if this kid learned to use a map by having to search for those countries that is fine with us.

The South African worksheet went the worst, by far because this was something I just assumed the kids would know. First of all we had to give a word bank for the nine provinces. Then a lot of the kids didn’t know what province they were in (the Eastern Cape). That would be like living in the U.S. and not knowing what state you live in when there are nine states. It was scary. As the worksheet progressed the kids were having more and more trouble. It’s hard to believe that they know so little about their own country for one, and on top of that, about the world. I wish that we had more time with them to help out, but our time is so limited.

We’ve decided to focus on South Africa for the next two weeks. We figure that’s most important for them to learn. On Friday we’re going to go in depth into four of the provinces and then continue with the other five next Friday. I hope that this is more successful.

Grace’s English classes went well though. She taught apostrophes in one class and then figures of speech in the other. For the figures of speech class we’re having a little contest for the best simile, metaphor, alliteration and onomatopoeia on Friday. I’m excited to hear what they come up with. One kid made a simile that really made me laugh: “that boy is as ugly as a baboon.” It was great because he clearly understands what a simile is and he’s put it into a South African context which just cracked me up. It’s great!

After school we were invited by our favorite Nyaluza student, Sanele, to watch a rehearsal of a play they were performing this past weekend. The play was in Xhosa, so we didn’t understand much. I think it was about the battle that brought the Fingo people into what is now Grahamstown. Fingo Village is the name of the part of the township where Nyaluza is, so it had context for the students. There were less than ten kids in the performance. There was singing, dancing, drumming and scenes. It was amazing! I loved watching it. I was able to get a lot of it on video. I’ve watched it a bunch of times. It’s just so fantastic!

We return on Friday to teach again. I’m very excited! I love going up there. After school we’re going to the shelter to see the boys. That should be a lot of fun. Kevin has never gone, so that will be exciting for him. Grace and I haven’t been up in a few weeks, so it’ll be good for us to get up there, too. We’re planning on bringing up a CD of “house music” (their request). Maybe we’ll have a dance party. I’m pretty excited for that!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Thank you, Gracias, Danke...

I want to quickly thank all of the people who have helped me here by donating art supplies, cameras, beading materials, clothing and money. I am so appreciative of the help and am honored that so many people want to help make a difference, even if it's in a small way. Many people have had things sent to me and I'd like to acknowledge them here and they will be acknowledged in my exhibit at the Arts Festival, as well.


A Very Special Thanks To:

The Bead Society of NJ

DHL Shipping

Ms. Everett

The Gsellmeyer Family

Helby Imports/Beadsmith

Miss Horowitz

The Hye Family

Kodak

Mill Lake Elementary School

Mr. & Mrs. Mitchell

Ms. Modell

Monroe Township High School National Arts Honor Society

The Mulvey Famiy

Ms. J. Paulkovich

Ms. P. Paulkovich

Rhodes University - St. Mary's Hall

The Roman Family

Ms. Ruggerio

Ms. Schamberger

Ms. Spang

Ms. Sprague

The Artisan Framer, Jamesburg, NJ

Mr. Torreano

Mr. & Mrs. Ungerlieder

Ms. Van Hise

Washington College Fine Art and Psychology Departments

Thank you again for all of your help. It is not only appreciated by me, but also by those you are helping - the women of the Raphael Centre, the boys of Eluxolweni, the children of Amasango and Nyaluza, as well as the greater Grahamstown community.

[If I have missed anyone, please let me know, as I would like to be sure to acknowledge everyone at the exhibit. Thank you]

Friday, May 2, 2008

Check This Out -

Grace sent this to me the other day. She's posted it on her blog and I thought it needed to be put up here, as well.

The Washington Post did a piece here in Grahamstown recently. It's a multimedia photo essay. Material was gathered over the past three years during three separate trips to Grahamstown and Vukani, the local squatter camp here. There are several cultural events explored such as funerals, the coming of age of Xhosa boys to men and the ritual slaughtering. This should give anyone a good view of traditional life here in Grahamstown.

Unfortunately my internet is so horribly slow so I haven't been able to watch everything, but Grace and Jason both enjoyed it. Grace says that you can see parts of the township, as well as town. I have posted the link below. Let me know what you think!

Washington Post Vukani Photo Essay

Still Alive

Last Friday Grace and I taught for the first time at Nyaluza. It was an interesting experience. We got picked up by the principal at 7:15am. He drove us up to the school. We were introduced to the students at their morning assembly. We were then led to our classroom and waited while the kids cleaned up the filthy room. The students hadn't had a teacher for over a month so the room was a mess and the kids were restless. We weren't told what grade were with or what subject we were teaching, so we had to figure it out on our own. We led introductions by having the students tell us their name and grade, their favorite subject, their life goals and a special fact about themselves. Our first class was tenth grade English. The majority of the class was interested in economics and wanted to become accountants. The kids were respectful and helped us figure out where they last left off and what needed to be done next. Our second class was eleventh grade English. They were a little bit more difficult than the first class. The boys were a riot. The girls were your stereotypical sixteen year old high school girls, chatty and self obsessed. Our last two classes were eighth grade history/geography. Our introduction session went by very quickly with these classes so we actually had to do some teaching. They were learning about settlements and the next topic to be covered was civilizations. We had to talk about the beginning of civilization in Mesopotamia. It was horrible. We looked very silly. In our last class we knew one of the students from Eluxolweni and he just shook his head at us while we taught. It was embarassing. Considering the amount of preparation we had (none) and the amount of direction and guidance we were given (none) I think we did OK.

We plan to prepare some worksheets for next week so that we can really start teaching. We have to prepare the students for their exams in June, which is a scary idea. I can hardly prepare myself for my exams in June, none the less prepare high school kids for an exam I've never seen in subjects I haven't covered in years.

Between our third and fourth class we got a visit from our favorite freshman, Sanele. He came to hang out. We told him about our horrible teaching skills. He made fun of us at first, but then gave us a demonstration of how to properly teach. He spoke loudly and moved around the room pointing out things in the textbook. "Teach like Jason," he said as he jumped around the room, his voice booming. He clapped his hands a lot and kept his imaginary class in line. This inspired us for our final class.

We only had four classes so we got to leave before noon. The walk from the township into town took forever, but we got to see parts of Grahamstown we'd never seen before.


Wednesday at the Raphael Centre I planned the beginning of the beading at the centre. They will start on Monday. The women are very excited. I will get to go up there and lend a hand, which will be nice. The arts festival is right around the corner, so I'm spending a lot of time trying to collect funds to help pay for the photo printing which was given by Kodak at a steep discount. Also, I'm trying to prepare the women to get the cameras and let them know what we expect and how to take a good picture. It's hard because many of the women do not speak English, they only speak Xhosa, so I have to find a Xhosa translator to translate my worksheets and then their narratives in the future. No one wants to do it for free, and I can't afford to compensate anyone. I'm also waiting for some important packages to get here, but everything is getting stopped in customs, which is both annoying and upsetting. I hate the customs system here. Everything takes forever and often packages get stolen.

This week we had three days off for public holidays. Sunday was Freedom Day, celebrating the first democratic elections in 1994 and yesterday was Worker's Day, like our Labor Day. It was nice to have two days off. Since there was no school Thursday, Wednesday ended up being a big night out. It was fun night spent with all of my favorite South Africans.

We only have three more weeks of school, which is mind boggling, but I guess what blows my mind more is that WAC is done with classes and only has exams next week. That makes me a little homesick. I wish I was going home, not because I don't love it here, but because the idea of being home is so appealing. I'll be home before I know it, though, and then I'll be wishing I was here!

Next weekend the WAC kids are going to Hogsback Mountain. It's about three hours from here, I believe. It's supposed to be beautiful. I'm excited to get away. A lot of people went away for this long weekend, but we couldn't drop that kind of money. We're saving up to go away during the last week of May when there are no classes. We want to fly up to Johannesburg and go to Kruger Park. We can't leave South Africa having not visited the famous park. I'm really excited for that trip.

Other than that there's not too much going on. We're enjoying Grahamstown while we can. Today we went to Mad Hatter's, our favorite coffee shop. We were eating our brunch (at 4pm), when the waitress came over with two shots. "The manager sent these over for being such great customers," she said. Grace and I just laughed and exchanged looks. We toasted to Mad Hatter's and downed our shots. This is the third time he's sent things over for us. He's a great guy. The restaurant has an Alice in Wonderland theme so I am planning to draw a few scenes to give them before we leave. Grace has selected them and I will draw them. I'll take photos before I give them away.

This weekend will be spent getting some things done. I have three papers due this month, so I need to start preparing for them. Other than that there's not too much going on.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Overdue Update

I've been back in Grahamstown for awhile now, but have been drowning in a wave of laziness. I don't know why my problem is, but I've been very lazy. It's been nice being back. I've been to the Raphael Centre a few times now and everything is going very well. We're just waiting for the large package of donations from home to arrive. When the package comes I'll finally get to start the photography project which will be exhibited at the National Arts Festival. Finally everything is coming together. We titled the exhibit "Defined by Four Letters," and hope that it will make the impact we want it to.

Also, we finally got back up to Nyaluza and Eluxolweni on Friday. They've been out of school so last week was their first day back. Grace and I headed up to Nyaluza to find out about helping out around school since Jason's gone now. We then were told that we were need to teach English, Life Orientation, and History/Geography. Needless to say we were pretty overwhelmed. I think we'll be starting Friday, we're just waiting for Mr. Mushwana (the principal) to give us the teacher's guides. It's such a surreal idea, me in front of a classroom. I can barely take myself seriously, I don't know how to get them to take me seriously. We were also told that we will need to prepare the kids for their big exams in June. That's pretty nerve wracking.

After we left the school on Friday we met up with some of the students we knew through Jason. We got to walk with them for awhile and catch up. It was nice spending time with them again! Grace and I headed up to the shelter to see the kids. We haven't seen them in forever. Luckily the were all there. It was amazing seeing them again. We spent awhile there listening to music, dancing, talking, cracking jokes. It was great. I really missed those kids. There were a few new kids and a few kids who have left. We got permission to come up every Friday after we're done at Nyaluza. It will be great. We plan to play games and listen to music. It's a lot of fun hanging out with them.

Aside from the volunteering I haven't been doing too much. I'm only taking Art History and my WAC Course now, so I've had a few papers to do, but not much other than that. Weekends are great, I really look forward to them. This past weekend Grace and I randomly met a kid who lived in NJ for awhile working as a camp counselor. It was great talking to him. He's the first person that I've met here so far that doesn't hate NJ. I don't know what the deal is. I certainly didn't think the stereotypes would follow me all the way here! I still get the "armpit of America" stuff here. It was nice to laugh about it with someone though.

Two weeks ago the WAC kids took a trip to Nieu Bethesda. It was fun and relaxing. Nieu Bethesda is an artist community about four hours away from here. It's famous for the Owl House, which was a pretty interesting place (http://www.owlhouse.co.za). It was very beautiful, but rather spooky. We also got to see a lot of fossils. The fossils were pre-dinosaurs which was pretty mind blowing. They are unique to the Karoo (where we were) and prove a lot about the history of the world. Also, the farm where we stayed had old bushman cave paintings that dated back over 7000 years. That was incredible. It was amazing to see artwork that old that was just painted on the walls of a cave.

Other than that I haven't been up to too much, but hope to spice things up soon. We have one last WAC trip to Hogsback Mountain, which should be very nice, but cold. We also have a very long (almost week long) weekend coming up in a few weeks. We want to take a trip then to the beach perhaps. Up the coast a bit it's still warm enough to swim. In fact, in Durban, where we might go in June or so, you can swim all year. That's pretty wild. We're also hoping to plan a trip to Kruger Park during the week before exams. That will be our last big adventure before we go home. I don't want to leave South Africa without having seen Kruger.

Backpacking - Friday March 21 - Saturday March 29 - Cape Town

We arrived in Cape Town late in the evening. The Baz Bus drove us down Long Street to our hostel, Inn Long Street. Grace, Sonya, Ryan and I moved into our room and immediately opened the doors to the balcony off our room. It faced out into the buzzing night life of Long Street, the infamous party street of Cape Town. Alive with energy from our final destination we went out for dinner and drinks at the cafe across the street. Our energy didn't last long and we ended up in bed early as usual.

The next day we headed out to explore Cape Town as well as pick up somethings that were left in the Baz Bus back in Plettenberg. I approached a nice looking older couple on the street hoping for directions to the BazBus office, instead they kindly drove us. The office wasn't nearby and when we arrived we found out that the items that they thought were ours were not. We'd have to come back on Tuesday. We were angry and embarrassed. I couldn't believe that we had gotten this free ride and they didn't have our stuff. On our way back from the office we found a great African street market. There was so much to see. It was the first I've seen since being in South Africa. We were able to get a lot of gifts there. We relaxed for the rest of the day and went out for Indian food for dinner - our first ethnic food since being in South Africa.

Sunday was Easter so Grace and I got up early and headed to church. To our surprise we met a group of you American missionaries, one of whom was from New Jersey. It was nice to talk to them. I didn't enjoy the service at all, but it was nice to be in church on Easter. After the service we walked down Long Street looking for somewhere to have brunch. We found a great cafe for brunch across from the street market. Again we lazed around the rest of the day, reading/sleeping in the hammocks on the porch. For dinner we had Chinese - the first I've had since I've been here - it was delicious. It tasted so fresh! We even got to do some Sake Bombs, which apparently they don't do in South Africa.

Monday we lazed around some more and attempted to go out in the evening. It was a public holiday, Easter Monday, so not too much was going on.

Tuesday Grace and I had scheduled a winetour. We got up early and waited around for the person to pick us up. When he was extremely late in coming, the boy at reception called him to see where he was. The driver claimed he was never told to pick us up. We were not happy. Instead we headed down to the waterfront where we met up with Ryan and "Germany" who we had met in Mossel Bay. The waterfront was nice, but reminded us a lot of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Since we could now go to pick up our things from the BazBus office, Grace, Ryan and I walked down there to do so. The walk was very long and it was very hot. I wanted to kill someone. On the way we got to see the up-and-coming Cape Town soccer stadium for the 2010 World Cup. It's not coming along so well. We also got to see a big of the beach where we could see all the way to Robben Island (where we never got to go). Once we got to the office we actually got our stuff and headed back to Long Street.

Wednesday Grace and I were rescheduled for our winetour and headed out early to embark on that. It was all Americans and one Scot on our bus. The winelands were beautiful, surrounded by mountains. At our first stop we got to see where they keep the different kinds of wines. Then we learned how to do a proper tasting. Once we tried our first wine with the group we got a list and got to try six different wines from the list (although we tried a few more than that). Along with the wine tasting was a cheese tasting. The cheeses were very good, many were goats cheeses. At our next stop we did a seated tasting with a group. We did a lot of wines. I lost count. At the end we tasted the World Champion brandy. It was made at this vineyard. I did not enjoy that AT ALL. It burned and I thought for sure I'd have hair on my chest afterwards! I did purchase a few small bottles as gifts for people at home, though. Also, they had a little trivia contest at the end and the winner won a bottle of wine. I won at my table. The question was "what year did the brandy win the world championship?" 2003. I got a nice bottle of Rose. At our next stop we got to enjoy lunch. Mine was amazing. I had a lamb burger that is soaked in red wine. It was delicious. We tried a lot of sparkling wines there, but at that point I was not in the mood for wine any longer, I just wanted to eat. By our final stop I was finally sobering up, but was in no mood to continue trying wines, but they just kept on coming. It was not appreciated on my end. When we finally returned to our hostel we found out that we had to rush to go pick up our Greyhound tickets for our trip home. Grace and I raced down to do that, just before the office closed then enjoyed a dinner alone. Afterwards we headed down to an outdoor jazz festival where the African market usually is. We met up with "Germany" and spent the rest of the evening with him. He is a jazz lover so we had a lot of fun with him. When the concert was over we headed down to a pub across the street from our hostel. Every night we had heard cover bands playing great "white people music" as we call it - your normal cover band material: Build Me Up Buttercup, Brown Eyed Girl, 80s music. We decided to go check the place out. We ended up having a great time. The music was fun. There were a ton of people there. It ended up being a great night.

Thursday we headed up Table Mountain. We got a cab to the cable car, then took the cable car up to the top. Once we hit the top we all went our separate ways. I ended up walking the entire perimeter of the mountain. It was beautiful. I got to see the views from every angle. It was amazing. I could've stayed up there forever. I really enjoyed it. When we got back we had lunch and took naps. When I woke up I wasn't feeling very well but thought I was fine. Next thing I knew I couldn't keep anything in my stomach and was very sick. I ended up spending the rest of our time before going back to Grahamstown on Saturday out of commission. It was awful. I spent all of Friday, our last day in Cape Town in bed. I was not very happy. Being sick made me so homesick I thought I was going to die.

Saturday morning we had to get up at 5am to catch our Greyhound back to Grahamstown. I was still not feeling my best, but prepared myself for the 15 hour ride with crackers and ginger ale. I slept on and off most of the ride, but had a hard time keeping things down. It was a terrible, terrible experience. When we finally reached Grahamstown I don't think I could've possibly been happier. It was so nice to be back in "my" room and "my" bed. It was a dream come true.

The trip was amazing. I had so much fun and met great people. It was the experience of a lifetime, but it was nice to finally be immobile.