Friday, October 31, 2008
Last night my friend Grace (who is also staying at my homestay) and I went to a show at the playhouse called "Shall We Dance?" My host mom's sister-in-law was in the show, so her husband gave us a ride. I was a little skeptical when the first act was a dance to "When I Grow Up" by the Pussycat Dolls, but the show was actually pretty good. My favorites were the Irish dancers, a group of young boys who did a step performance, and this couple who won a dance competition in England recently. I also met this guy after the show who works for the KZN Department of Economic Development, and he's going to help me get in touch with some people for my ISP. Cookie's brother and wife took us out for a late dinner afterwards. It was nice not stressing out about my ISP/registration/housing issues for a while.
It doesn't feel like tonight is Halloween...it's really not very big here. But our academic director did decorate the offices and gave us all big bags of candy, which I ate a lot of it while finishing my proposal. I know there's a Halloween party at this restaurant that we all really like, but I don't have a costume, so I don't know if I'll go or not. Plus my homestay sisters invited Grace and me to some sort of youth group party. Anyway, I'm pretty hungry because I haven't really eaten in a while (except for candy). Sala kahle and Happy Halloween!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sunday, I moved into my new homestay in an area called Manor Gardens. It's like 2 blocks away from the SIT offices, and really isn't too far from Cato Manor. It's such a different experience, though. I'm living with a woman named Cookie, who runs the KZN Network on Violence against Women, and I'm helping her out this week. She runs the network from her house because they almost had to shut it down when they lost funding and their offices. I have 3 sisters and one of the sisters has 2 little boys, the youngest is only a month old! He's so cute and tiny! The other one is about 3 or 4. His name is J.J., but I call him "Piderman." When we moved in on Sunday we watched Spiderman on TV, but he can't make a "sp" sound, so he says "piderman" instead. He's really funny.
Anyway, thus far I've helped Cookie with a powerpoint presentation that she'll present at a convention in Mexico in November. I'm also helping her re-work the network's constitution. She recently got more funding for the next 4 years, so she's working on creating more structure and getting offices again. She goes to a lot of conventions to learn about new programs and share her own experiences. She works with a lot of partnerships since it's a network. Basically, she's awesome. It also feels pretty cool to know that something I helped make is gonna be presented in front of a bunch of people!
My updates might be few this week because my research proposal is due on Friday and I'll be devoting a lot of time to that. I'll try to give little updates though whenever possible. Sala kahle!
Friday, October 24, 2008
On Thursday our focus study group had more discussion about Trust Feed and our reactions. We also talked about how we might view the situation differently if we had heard Brian Mitchell's perspective. We also were given the task of applying what we've learned about the reconciliation process back home. We were given a hypothetical situation where we had to create a 3-year reconciliation program in the U.S. It got a little difficult because we argued about the "reparations" aspect of it, but I think our presentation turned out ok.
Later that afternoon I went to the Pavilion (another huge mall...they really like malls here) to get a going-away-thank-you present for my family. I got them some really nice chocolates, a couple of DVDs, and a pretty fruit bowl. I think they'll enjoy it, and it's something they can all use.
Today we went back to John's house to present our hypothetical reconciliation program, and we watched another video about the Trust Feed massacre where Brian Mitchell met with families and victims. It was really interesting to see, and it really seemed that they never fully reconciled with him. But there's so many problems in the Trust Feed area that I think it will take a long time for their problems to be solved.
Today I found out that the Induna (who is just below the chief in traditional Zulu hierarchy) of the area where we stayed in the rural areas, was arrested, charged with murder, and is no longer the induna. I don't really know the whole story of what happened, but it was definitely shocking to hear it! I don't know how the girls who lived at his house really feel about it either. It's a little crazy.
I still can't believe that it's my last night in Cato Manor! This part of the program seemed ages away when I got here, and now it's actually happening. I hope that my homestay next week will be just as good. Sala kahle!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
We're focusing this week on a specific amnesty case involving a man named Brian Mitchell. He was granted amnesty for the murders of 11 people that he ordered killed in 1988 in a small town outside Pietermaritzburg called Trust Feed. They were supposed to be attacking a secret political meeting of the UDF, but accidentally went to the wrong house and ended up killing people who were at a wake. He was sentenced to death during the apartheid negotiation period and applied for amnesty after spending several years in jail. A lot of people argue that he shouldn't have gotten amnesty, but that because his trial was earlier in the process, he might have been given it to appease the apartheid supporters. He says however that he does feel a lot of remorse and has worked within the Trust Feed community to try to reconcile with them.
Today we actually went to Trust Feed, where we met the son of one of the victims, and he took us to a memorial that was constructed for the victims at the sight of the massacre. It was cool to see, but it was also kinda sad because it was unfinished, and didn't really seem like it was used much (although the pastor who let us into it said that they used it for small religious ceremonies sometimes). It also didn't really seem like too many of the people in the community really cared about it that much. This December is the 20th anniversary of it, and they aren't even doing anything special to commemorate it. I think the people are also really disappointed with the involvement of Brian Mitchell, because I think they wanted more money from them than they have actually received. The son was also afraid to be there for too long because apparently people in the community like to hound him for help or money (since his mom was a victim, they think he gets special treatment from Mitchell. He moved closer to Pietermaritzburg to escape them). It was pretty bizarre.
Last night my Baba said I should just stay with my homestay family forever. I told him I wouldn't be able to do that, but that I would definitely have to visit. I still can't believe that my Cato Manor homestay is almost over, or that I'm over halfway done with the program, or that ISP starts really soon. It's crazy! I'm excited about experiencing new things though. Although, I really don't wanna leave without Mama teaching me how to make steam bread. She usually makes it on the weekends, but didn't last weekend for some reason. Maybe she'll show me tonight? I don't know. Sala kahle!
Monday, October 20, 2008
On Sunday, my mama told me that I was making dinner, so I had to make a quick run to a grocery store to get everything I needed to cook. Daryl and I wanted to go to the Hare Krishna Temple of Understanding, but we found out that it took a really long time to get there, and since we both had to fix dinner, we didn't want to be late getting home. So instead we had A.Kay take us to the Botanic Gardens (which is now my favorite place in Durban) and we threw my frisbee for a while and got some reading done. We also saw some monkeys, and one of them had a baby monkey clinging to its stomach! It was SO CUTE! I think we must have taken about 40 pictures of them, until they started attacking our feet.
For dinner for my family, I decided to make spaghetti with meat sauce. It took a lot longer than I expected because our stove apparently only has one working burner (which I found out last night). I even made the sauce myself and I was really proud of it! I also grated a big thing of Parmesan cheese. I think my family was a little skeptical at first, but they ended up really liking it! My mama saved some of hers to take to work today to "show my friend that you can cook!" and my bhuti took some of the leftovers for his lunch! Daryl and I made a joint dessert effort of brownies and ice cream with chocolate sprinkles for our families, and they really liked that too. I was really proud of me because a lot of the other students who made dinner for their families weren't nearly as successful as I was.
This week we started our group focus studies. I'm in a group with 7 other students in the reconciliation study, and we're focusing on the amnesty process of the TRC. We're even going to make a trip to a town where our case study crime took place (close to Pietermaritzburg). It's definitely going to be a good week. I'm excited. Sala kahle!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Yesterday we traveled about 40 minutes out of Durban to visit The Valley Trust (TVT). It was created in the in the 50s/60s originally as a health clinic and has evolved into a large organization for rural development. They train people in the community to be community health workers and teach people how to cultivate land and create a sustainable community. It was interesting, but I think we're all a little sick of these intensive lecture workshops, and to be honest, it's getting hard to focus.
Today we went to ACCORD, which I can't remember at the moment what the acronym stands for, but it works with conflict resolution within Africa. It was orginially started at the end of the apartheid and worked on finding ways of resolving conflicts between different groups. They hold workshops to create peace-keeping faciliators and encourage reconciliation. They're currently working with a large number of African countries including the DRC, Burundi, and Somalia to name a few. It was really interesting, and it works because of their grassroots focus and their patience. We had lunch at the Gateway mall, which is the largest mall in the Southern Hemisphere. It's massive. My lunch consisted of sushi and cheesecake, a winning combination. But yeah the mall has about 300ish stores, an Imax theater, the largest indoor climbing wall, and a surfing simulation thing. We're planning on going back there at some point to explore some more. We finished our day back at SIT with our weekly group seminar discussion.
Ok, so now I'll talk about bunny chow. I don't really know why it's called Bunny chow, but it has a cool history to it, and is a unique part of Durban. Basically, it's any form of curry (veggie, chicken, whatever you want) served inside of a hollowed out loaf of bread. It's very tasty, but I learned that it was created during the apartheid era to serve blacks and coloreds. Since they weren't allowed in certain restaurants, they were created as means of getting take-out food. That way the people could still enjoy the food from the restaurant but wouldn't be breaking any of the apartheid laws. And it still remains a really popular dish today. You can get it at basically any Indian restaurant you go to. Well, it's almost time to go. I'm hoping to play ultimate this weekend, but we'll see what happens. Sala kahle!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Today we went to the Institute for the Healing of Memories. The organization was originally created to help people who had been abused under the apartheid system, but has since adjusted to help refugees or HIV/AIDS victims as well. They have also actually started working with victims of domestic violence in the U.S. The workshop was really interesting, and we did a sort of condensed version of their normally 3-day workshop so that we could get an idea of what they did. The institute was at this really pretty monastery that we got to explore a bit.
The plans for my ISP are coming together. I'm going to spend 2 weeks in Cape Town and 2 back in Durban. I've been doing some research on finding a good hostel and such. I'm excited! Well, I better get going cause we're going out to dinner for a girl's birthday. Sala kahle!
Monday, October 13, 2008
On Saturday, Daryl and I were planning on going to the mall for a little bit and then exploring, but we were both a little sick of the mall. We asked A. Kay (this really awesome taxi driver who gives S.I.T. students discounted fares) what we should do for the day. He dropped us off at this open air market in a park. There were a variety of different little kiosks. We met this really cool woman who made jewelry by firing copper. She told us some fun things to do in Durban, and I bought a really pretty pair of earrings for only R30 (less than $4!). We also had the most amazing bread pudding I've ever tasted in my life. Thank you, A. Kay! After we left the market, we decided to wander around the neighborhood and explore a little. We walked down several blocks and wound up at the botanical gardens. We decided to go in and explore them more since we didn't really get a change to before. They had a lot of really cool plants and an insane amount of birds. I truly believe my mom would be in heaven there. It took me forever to finally find the tree that's the only one of its kind. There's only a male species of the tree and no female species, so the only way they've been able to make new ones is by cloning the original one. It was fun exploring Durban. It was a lot better than spending the whole day in the mall.
On Sunday, we had absolutely gorgeous weather, so we headed to the beach for the day. We ended up hanging out with the girlfriend of our driver/Zulu tutor and her friend. It was nice to hang out with some people who weren't in the program, just to be different. The weather was so nice though, and the water wasn't too cold. It was nice to relax.
Today we went to UKZN for a workshop on race and identity in South Africa. We talked about why people classify others and how it affects the way we act towards them. We also watched a video about interracial adoption. The workshop was very interesting, and it felt nice to actually be on a college campus. The campus is on top of a really tall hill, and we had lunch in this park that had a gorgeous view all the way to the harbor! It was a good day, in all.
My bhuti finally came home last night. He hadn't been there since I got home from the rural areas, and I asked where he was on Thursday. He was apparently visiting his grandmother and cousins. I asked my sisi if he was missing school and she said yes. I feel like a week of school is a lot to miss if you're just visiting family and going to the mall. My sisi didn't seem to think like it was a big deal though...ah the joys of South African education.
I'm really excited because my mama is going to show me how to make steamed bread. It's quite possibly the most delicious bread I've ever eaten in my life. It may even be better than the rolls served at camp (gasp!). The next time she makes it, she's going to show me how do it, so that I can make it when I get back to the U.S. She had to check to make sure that flour existed in the U.S. first before she agreed to teach me, though. I assured her it did. I'm excited. Sala kahle!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
- My homestay family which consisted of Gogo ("grandma" in Zulu), her32-year old daughter Gugu, and Gugu's 5 children: Lindo(14), Ntokozo(11),Cebo(9?), Sisi (6), and Sanele(5). We didn't realize until later the first night that Sisi was in fact, a girl (which makes sense because her name means "Sister"). It also took us a few days to figure out whether Cebo was a boy or a girl. He's a boy.
- Gogo's amazing scones that she taught us how to make.
- A traditional Zulu wedding gift ceremony complete with traditional Zulu attire. The bride and friends walked around with spears, and if they stuck them in the ground in front of you, you had to give the bride a gift and go dance with all the people.
- The tractor ride to said wedding ceremony where we got splattered with mud and raced other tractors down the road.
- Playing soccer and other games with my siblings
- Visiting a South African prisoners as part of a rehabilitation program,and talking with prisoners, and playing one of the prisoner's guitar!
- Going to a traditional court and meeting the Inkosi (chief)
- Walking to the beach, climbing up sand dunes, and chasing crabs in the surf.
- My gogo took some of my friends and me to the top of this small but spectacular canyon.
- After a strange scratching noise on our window one night, Gogo slept in our room with us an brought a plastic gun in an effort to protect us from potential intruders. She also started telling us randomly before bed that life starts going downhill after age 20 (I guess I'm done for) and that we should get married by the time we're 26 or 27, but that married life is horrible. Awesome.
- Visiting an orphanage and attempting to learn traditional Zulu dance from the children there.
- Meeting an inyanga and an isangoma (traditional healers).
- Creating a braai (bbq) with an old rusty wheelbarrow because we didn't have an actual grill.
- Going to my Gogo's hometown for a 21st birthday party (very similar to the wedding gift ceremony). We trekked through the muddy roads wearing garbage bag skirts to protect our clothes from the rain, walked down to the highway, and hitchhiked to Gogo's town on a tractor-trailer. It was nuts.
- The game drive and boat ride in Umfolozi where we saw a large variety of wild animals: Giraffes, Zebra, Impala, Water Buffalo, Rhinos, Buffalo,Warthogs, Hippos, Crocodiles, etc!
- Getting an actual shower at the bush lodge after the rural homestay. It was glorious.
- Going to the Albert Luthuli (former ANC president and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Museum and getting to meet one of his daughters who just happened to be visiting that day.
I wish I could go into so much more detail about things, because it was so much fun and I did so many wonderful things, but I think that my blog entry would go on for days. I'm really going to miss my rural homestay family, because they were a lot of fun, but I'm not going to miss having literally no personal space. I thought I would be ok with the whole personal space thing because of my counseling experiences, but at camp you can set boundaries and there's no language barrier to deal with. I'm also going to miss having showers (at least for another few weeks). I definitely will not miss the cement block pit latrine though. Or the cockroaches that were crawling all over it. Yuck. But overall, I had a really great experience and it was fun learning about a new culture! Tomorrow we're going on our rescheduled Durban walk, and then I have no idea what I'm going to do this weekend. I guess I'll update again on Monday at some point, but I better go work on my rural methodology paper at the moment. Sala kahle!