Here is a quick recap of our last week in South Africa:
Friday July 4th: In the morning and afternoon, we toured the Parliament building and learned more about the South African political structures. During the tour, we were able to sit in on a satellite press conference with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs who was in Pretoria. It was interesting to hear how his evaluation of the Zimbabwe situation was countered and challenged by the reporters present. After a home-cooked dinner by one of our professors, we headed to the V&A Waterfront for the Encounters Film Festival. We watched a film titled “Courting Justice” about female court justices in South Africa.
Sat-Sun July 5-6: It rained…a lot. Although it was our first free weekend of the trip, the inclement weather kept us inside.
Mon July 7th: I began my last week at the District 6 Museum by working with the collections department and helping them to design their upcoming soccer exhibition. It was interesting to see just how much time, effort, and craftsmanship goes into making a museum exhibit.
Tues July 8th: Instead of going to District Six, I went with the students who were working in crèches (day care centers) in the township. Getting to interact with the children was an incredible experience. Since they didn’t speak English (they speak Xhosa), I had to find creative ways to communicate with them. Their wide smiles, bright attitudes, and love for singing and dancing really made the day special for me. At one point, one of the toddlers took hold of my hand and just stared at it—I suspect that he had never seen a white hand before. That truly was a very moving experience.
Wed July 9th: My last day at the Museum. Mariki, one of my coworkers, took me to the University of the Western Cape to see their Mayibuye Archives. I was amazed by the material they had in their collections. I got to hold one of the handwritten textbooks used by prisoners on Robben Island! Later in the day, my coworkers at the museum threw me a going away party and presented me with the parting gift of a book about District Six.
Thurs July 10th: Last day in Cape Town!! I headed downtown to the Greenmarket Square shops because I had yet to do any souvenir shopping. After picking up some paintings, crafts, and a few books, I headed back to our guest house to start packing. At night, our group shared one last dinner together.
Fri-Sat July 11th-12th: Flight home. Cape Town to Johannesburg (2 hrs), Jo’burg to Washington, DC with a stop in Dakar, Senegal (18hrs!!), and DC to Buffalo (1 hr). The flight wasn’t too bad…and from Cape Town to Jo’burg, I sat next to another rising junior from Duke!! What a small world!!
Pictures and a final reflections are still coming…check back in a few days.