Dearest family and friends,
My sincerest apologies for taking so long to write a blog post! The honeymoon phase of school starting is most definitely over, and we are in the middle of a ton of difficult material in my business classes. I have my first exams this upcoming Friday and Monday for statistics and managerial accounting, so I have been studying day and night for these big tests.
Something really interesting that I was able to experience last weekend was an overnight stay in a home of a native family in one of the townships, Gugelethu. For those of you who don’t know, a ‘township’ refers to the place where under the apartheid regime, blacks were forced to live and be segregated from the whites. Most blacks were forced from their original homes and neighborhoods and put into townships away from their families. The townships were (and for the most part, still are) extremely impoverished and lacked basic resources for survival.
When we arrived in Gugelethu Saturday morning, it was shocking to see the level of poverty. The town was filled with makeshift shacks and kids running barefoot in the streets. What was also shocking was how close Gugelethu is to the downtown district of Cape Town, literally less than 20 minutes away and you enter a completely different world. I was accompanied by 20 other Americans from my group and our group leader. We were given a tour by a local of the township, which included walking through the ‘neighborhoods’ of shacks. My favorite part of the tour was visiting the orphanage of Gugelethu. I felt extremely humbled and blessed to be able to play with the kids in the orphanage. Our American group all brought toys for the kids and they were absolutely thrilled. Something that really saddened me was that the tour leader told us that most of the kids at this orphanage were positive for HIV/AIDS. It is still hard for me to wrap around how incredibly blessed I am to have my health and the opportunities I have back home. Something that really struck a chord with me was that one of the older kids, about fifteen, was talking to one my American friends, Rodney, and Rodney was showing his something on his Iphone 6. I assumed that Rodney was maybe showing him some games or pictures, so I went over to see what they were looking at. To my surprise, Rodney was Googling some math equations and showing them to the boy. Rodney told me that the boy came up to him and asked him if he could teach him some basic math. When I heard this, my heart sunk. Here I am complaining about how hard my statistics class is, yet all these kids are longing for is education.
After the township tour was over, we were separated into groups of four to meet our “host parents” for the night. Our host mom, Loretta, took me and three other girls under her wing for the night. She was absolutely amazing to be around, she was so full of life and so incredibly sweet to us. She lived in a small, but nice home in the township. To our surprise, she took us to her friend’s house for a birthday party/bbq. Her friend lived in a suburb about 20 minutes away and her home was really nice, they even had a pool our back. The party was about twenty girls in their 30’s-40’s and we had a blast dancing the night away and eating amazing food. After the party, we went back to Loretta’s home and slept. In the morning, she cooked us breakfast and took us to her church where she is an active participant. The service was not in English, but in an indiginous South African language called Xhosa. The language of xhosa is extremely interesting to listen to because it is spoken in clicks, like clicking soudns with your tongue. Xhosa is the primary language spoken in Gugelethu, but Zulu and English are also spoken. Even though I couldn’t understand a thing in Church, it was still a worthwhile experience.
Needless to say, my township experience was overwhelmingly positive. It truly opened my eyes to what the “real” South Africa is like. I don’t feel like I would have gotten that complete understanding of South African life without staying overnight in Loretta’s home.
Anyways, back to studying! Missing everyone a ton ❤ Wish me luck on my tests!