Under South African Skies

I Ate An Ostrich And I Liked It | July 9, 2009

 

Pat the Loyola Student, Charlie the Roommate, Cate the English Major, and Me the 3rd Place Finisher in the Pier Elementary School Spelling Bee stand above beautiful Cape Town.

Pat the Loyola Student, Charlie the Roommate, Cate the English Major, and Me the 3rd Place Finisher in the Pier Elementary School Spelling Bee stand above beautiful Cape Town.

Day 5 in Cape Town. We’re just about used to steering wheels on the right sides of the cars that drive on the left side of the road. Calculating the rand to dollar rate doesn’t take quite as long as it did earlier in the week. Apparently, it will be up to 10 or 11 rand to a U.S. dollar by September, which means I won’t be as conservative in deciding whether or not I’m going to buy Go-Gurt at the Pick ‘n Pay grocery store in our Observatory neighbourhood.

We continued visiting service sites today after a two day hiatus at the University of the Western Cape, where we will be taking classes. Tuesday was tentative class registration, which wasn’t necessarily the nightmare described to us by former participants in this program. Nonetheless, it wasn’t like signing up for classes at Marquette. We were encouraged to sign up for more classes than we plan to take, then attend those classes and ask the professors which days they will be offered. They could be offered one of the days written on the weekly schedule, multiple days written on the schedule, or none of the days if a small number of people sign up. Apparently, professors sometimes decide to cancel class without e-mailing students in said class. Looking forward to that.

With a full two days of hindsight, however, it wasn’t a bad lesson to learn. Though it wasn’t the registration process any of us were used to, it taught us that we will have to be flexible and adjust the ways we approach our learning. It seems that South Africans don’t look at school in terms of the tight schedule as we are used to–this time to that time, however many days a week. Rather, it is fluid and subject to change. Maybe this will suit some of us more in five months’ time.

We also had the opportunity to attend an international students’ orientation. There, we listened to the leaders of student organizations, a humorous professor involved with international students, a stirring account of a young man living with HIV, and the UWC rector, a South African/Irishman called Brian O’Connell. Starting his speech by quoting Bob Dylan immediately won him some healthy points in the Brian Harper’s Points For People Who Quote Bob Dylan Fund. Mr. O’Connell’s at-the-same-time funny and poignant remarks seemed to acknowledge what Franklin Roosevelt called our generations’ rendezvous with destiny. He addressed apartheid, environmental issues, and even human conflict. He invited those of who are white to consider if black Africans had arrived at North America and taken over our land and livelihoods. It wasn’t an indictment; rather, it was an encouragement to acknowledge a foreign perspective. I think Mr. O’Connell all inspired us in his charge to rise to the challenges that our world and history have presented us with.

Like I said, we visited some sites today, including the one I’ll be working at with Nora Kennelly, another student on our trip. It’s called the Amy Biehl Foundation. It was founded by the family of Amy Biehl, a young American woman who was doing social justice-type work in South Africa when she was murdered near the end of the apartheid era. In a remarkable act of forgiveness, Amy’s mother Linda advocated for her daughter’s four killers being granted amnesty for their political crime. Today, one of the killers works for the foundation and is friends with Linda. At the foundation, which works to develop school programs for South African students, I expect to work on a literacy program, as well as possibly teach guitar lessons. I might be able to buy a guitar for 300 rand, which is less than $40 U.S. I don’t remember if it was Henry David Thoreau or Borat who said, “Very nice,” but in terms of the low price for a guitar, I definitely know what they were talking about.

We’ve been very lucky to have some time to soak in the city’s culture and sights. Today, we drove to the summit of a hill overlooking the entire city (see picture above) and then had lunch in a more tourist-y area, where we learned about the possibility of shark diving. Dive we will.

I’ve also included a picture summing up our experience with traditional South African food. Our program director, Melikaya, treated us to a Xhosa dinner. Xhosa is the ethnic group that Melikaya and former South African President Nelson Mandela are part of. As Melikaya told us of some Xhosa traditions, we ate sheep intestine (meh) and ostrich (if you like steak, you’ll like this bird). The one thing we were all told we must try was the African beer that the Xhosa use at cultural ceremonies. We passed a container that looked like an open bowling ball around the table. It was a little bitter and most of us agreed that we prefer beverages from the Western world. But on the second or third pass around the table, we started getting used to the taste. Though we are a ways from being comfortable and acclimated with the food, culture, people and city of Cape Town, we’re starting to get used to that taste, too.

Can I get a hey-oh for the metaphor?

 

Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire

 

 

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1 Comment »

  1. I have to admit…when I saw the title “I ate an Ostrich, and I liked it” and then saw the pic of you drinking from that bowl…I thought oh dear…he’s slurping the ostrich straight from the egg…

    Thank goodness I was wrong!

    Comment by Jessica — July 13, 2009 @ 1:48 pm


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About author

I'm a 20-year-old Marquette student currently studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. I like to play the guitar and piano, watch the Mighty Ducks trilogy, read, travel and write. My favorite Judd sister is Winona, and I share a birthday with Dan Quayle.

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