Sorry it's been a few days since I updated. Wednesday we didn't have class because it was a national holiday (Heritage Day) and yesterday the internet wasn't working for anyone. But since my last update, the government has gotten things together again. The best part would definitely have to be that the secretary of health (who doesn't believe in AIDS) is no longer the secretary of health. Yesss!
Anyway, on Wednesday, a group of us went downtown to a marketplace called the workshop. It was nice to walk around, and I got a really cute pair of earrings. Nothing to exciting or interesting that day. We were gonna go to what we thought was a concert at a park by the workshop, but after listening for a long time to an AIDS activist, we decided to go elsewhere.
Yesterday we had some really interesting lectures about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Xenophobia. John, our academic coordinator, was actually a researcher for the TRC, so it was really cool to hear first-hand experience. The TRC is just such a unique process and I find it really fascinating. It was the government's way of acknowledging their apartheid past, and it almost seemed like catharsis for the whole country because it was so emotional and provided closure for a lot of people.
The Xenophobia lecture was given by a refugee from the DRC who works for the KZN Refugee Center. I didn't realize that such a large refugee population here was from the DRC. While overall, there are more people from Zimbabwe and Namibia, about 80% of the refugee population in KZN come from the DRC. It's really hard for refugees to find housing and work, especially because the South African government does so little to help them. They face a lot of adversity, but the Refugee Center has helped in reducing Xenophobic attacks in the province. It's really amazing that they even have the center to begin with, because it's entirely run by refugees, and they have basically no funding. His lecture made me think about my DRC friends back in Lexington, and I talked to the lecturer about them and how they made it to the U.S. I would love to volunteer at the Refugee Center. I think it would be such a great experience.
Today we're finishing up more stuff about the TRC and we're going to watch a movie about it. We're ending class early today to give time for some people to shop if we need before tomorrow. Tomorrow, we're heading to the rural areas for a week-long homestay! It should be pretty interesting: no electricity, no running water, etc. I'm not gonna lie, I'm really starting to miss real showers. But I think the rural homestay will be a lot of fun. We'll even get to go to a tribal council! After that, we'll be spending a day or two at the Umfolozi game reserve (the 2nd largest in South Africa) which is farther north from the rural area where we'll stay. We should be back in Durban around the 8th of October. And obviously since there's no electricity really, I won't have my computer, much less internet access, so this is goodbye for a while. I'm sure I'll have a lot of interesting stories when I get back. Sala kahle!