Friday, September 25, 2009


Hello Everyone,

So the big news this week is that we just had our Walk for School Libraries. It was a great success and we had an amazing turnout. We had over 2,000 people in attendance and lots of press, including the New York Times. In fact, our organization, Equal Education, was featured twice in the New York Times. Most recently for our Walk for School Libraries. It should be in the NYT either on 24 Sept or 25 Sept so try and find the article. If you cannot find it, it is on the front page of the New York Times world section of the internet newspaper. The link is

Unfortunately, I was unable to walk in the event due to complications I am having with my knee. I rode in the car in the front march for the majority of the walk. I had been having back problems for about a week so I was relying on my legs a lot. My legs were really tight as a result and stretched leg towards my butt and I felt a twinge. It was nothing too serious, but it swole up pretty big so I went to the doctor at Student Health. The doctor sent me to an orthopedic surgeon to get it further checked out. The doctor drained my knee so the swelling, but he thought that I had a torn meniscus. So he sent me to get an MRI and after looking at the images he was pretty sure that I had torn my meniscus and I would need surgery. However, I got a call about 30 minutes after returning home from the doctor, he told me that the people who did the MRI did not see a torn meniscus, but instead it was a bone bruise with some other complications. So I have to wait weeks and see how things turn out, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is just a bone bruise.

This injury took place last Saturday while I was on a my weekend home stay I was staying with a family in the township Langa. It was a good time, besides the injury and it was a different experience than my home stay in Vereeniging last time in South Africa. The only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth was that we only stayed with the family for 2 days and 2 nights. It was just a short time, so it was hard really get a feel for the community.

But that has been the last week or so. I suggest everyone check out that New York Times article. It gives a little insight to what I am doing for my service over here.

Talk to you soon


Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Second Spring Break of 2009!

Spring Break!

Hello everyone.

I am currently still on Spring Break but this is a recap of the last weeks events and our trip to and from the Eastern Cape.

Our Spring Break started at 6AM Saturday morning. A group of groggy service-learners piled into a van driven by Mark, the guy who drives us to service. Mark would be our driver for the entire vacation. We made our first stop at the Cango Caves in Kynsa. We took the adventure tour of the caves. There were some tight squeezes and some wet areas in the caves, but I enjoyed my time. I was one of the few who enjoyed the caves, but I thought it was pretty cool to check out the different formations. After the lunch at the caves, we traveled to an Ostrich Farm. At the farm we had the opportunity to feed the ostriches, hug the ostriches, and the most fun thing of all, ride the ostriches. You jump on the back of the ostrich and hold on for your life while two of the handlers hold you. The ride lasts between 5 and 10 seconds, but it is well worth it. We then had a chance to watch the handlers ride the ostriches. They were much better than us and they steered the ostrich by moving its neck like a joystick. Apparently people race ostriches competitively out here. An interesting day at the races that must be. We then drove to what would be our home for the next 4 days, Wild Spirit. We arrived in late due to road closing, but dinner was ready when we got there. We shortly retired for bed after a long day.

On Saturday, we started our day ziplining. We ziplined from platform to platform in the Canopy. We were approximately 15 to 30 meters in the air for most of the trip. We had lunch at the Tsitikamma Canopy Tours and then headed over to the Elephant Sanctuary. The we had the chance to hug, feed, pet, and walk the elephants. Theres nothing like standing next to creature that could kill you if it stepped on you. We returned for the to Wild Spirit for dinner and drumming around the camp fire.

The next morning we woke up early and went to the bungee jumping place. The group excluding Mark and myself did bungee jumped. It is the highest commercial bungy jumping bridge in the world. It was higher than 230 meters. Everyone had an amazing time and afterwards we piled all of the adrenaline high group into the van and made our way over to Monkey Land. At Monkeyland we were able to walk amongst the monkey and take pictures. There we saw tons of Lemurs (my favorite), Capuchin monkeys, and Gibbon monkeys. We had lunch at Monkeyland and then went across the way to Birds of Eden. This was a similar set-up to Monkeyland where you could walk around with the birds. This however, was an unfortunate set-up for me as I got bit by a bird on my chin and finger. There was a fair amount of blood but it was hilarious to think that among all of the animals that I have met so far, the one that got me was a little bird. Not the leopards or cheetahs that we got to meet after the Birds of Eden. That was amazing, because we were just feet from leopards, cheetahs, caracals, other wild African cats, and the most dangerous of the creatures at the sanctuary, birds (once again). As we reached the end of the tour we had to walk through a group of storks and other large birds. Our tour guide was terribly afraid of these birds because they did not like her and they tried to attack her. Instead I was once again bitten by one of the birds in the butt. Luckily for the bird, there was no blood, or else there would have been hell to pay. We all retired to Wild Spirit and played board games. This was probably the most action packed day of the trip.

Due to Monday being so busy, we took a rest day on Tuesday and we just hung out at the beach. This was a lot of fun and we got to swim in the Indian Ocean. We spent the majority of the day there, before heading back to still recover from the day before. Unfortunately, the beach that we were at is the final resting place of my Boston Red Sox hat. We believe that it got covered under sand or carried away by the wind. It had a good run. Just over five years old, it was pretty beat up. At least this will put an end the question: "if you're a White Sox fan... Why do you have a Red Sox hat?"

The next day we left Wild Spirit and went to Cape L'Agulhas.
This was my second time to the southern-most tip of Africa. It was a much different experience this time and we saw the sun go down over the ocean. I also touched both oceans at the same time. It was crazy to think that the only thing between us and Antarctica was ocean. We then pulled into our destination for the night. A small hostel in Hermanus. We went out to a saloon for dinner, because it was the only thing that was still open after 9PM. The saloon also doubled as a Karaoke bar, so we got to see some interesting performances, including one from our own group.

The next day we were up at 630AM for what was one of the highlights of the trip for me. This was Shark Cage Diving. We took a boat out about called the Barracuda. After about 25 minutes we were at Shark Alley where we would be for the majority of our time. After about 20 minutes we saw our first Great White Shark. The guides attracted the sharks with chum and a tuna head. They then dropped the cage into the water. As the sharks appeared they piled groups of six into the cage. You would kneel just above the water until the guide screamed down. At this point we went underwater and watch the great white pass just inches in front of our faces. I got to go underwater twice for about 10 minutes each time. I was in the first and last group. I got to see the shark finally take the bait that was being dangled in front of its nose for 3 hours. Watching the sheer size and power of those creatures was amazing. From there we took a short detour over to Dire Island where the 60,000 of the sharks favorite prey, seals, lived. The whole experience was unforgettable. Afterwards we returned to Cape Town after our adventurous trip.

On Friday we were still kicking in Cape Town as we woke up early and went to the beach. The beach was covered in white sand and I played catch with the newly attained gloves that I got in a package from my mom that day.
We came back to the house and watched a movie that I fell asleep during.

Today, everything kind of caught up with us. This morning we went to Old Biscuit Mill, which is like a farmers market type deal. There I got the biggest piece of 1/4 chicken and fries, which was delicious. Besides that we have been around the house and Rondebosch. We made a trip to get ice cream, but besides that it has been a rather uneventful day. Which for a change was nice.

Well that has been my Spring Break thus far. I am not done yet, but I have enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Until next time.

Hamba Kakuhle.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Midterm Week


It has been an over week since my last post. Since then we had gone to see President Zuma speak at Parliament. We sat in on a session at Parliament where representatives were able to ask the president questions. It was interesting to see how the session was run, but nothing was really got accomplished. Typical bureaucrat stuff. Following the session at Parliament, we went to a book launch party for Manuel Castells. The Social Sciences Citation Index, ranks Manuel Castells as the world’s fifth most-cited social sciences scholar, and the foremost-cited communications scholar. Many people compare him to being as important as Karl Marx. Angela, one of the women who runs the program is close friends, so we had the opportunity to talk to him. His speech was amazing and it was cool to talk to him.

The next day I was at Equal Education all day. We had our second march for school libraries, this time it was in Khayelitsha. It was a great success and we had tons of people in attendance. There were probably about 500 people marching. Which is small compared to what the march on the 22nd of September. At the end of march we went to a town hall where we had lectures talk about the importance of libraries and why we need them. So the night was overall successful. Friday there was not much happening and we stayed around the house. On Saturday we went down to Long Street and hung out around there. Before we went to Long Street we gave Ronel her birthday present, which was a cake and Eva's friend came in from home on Saturday and we all met him on Sunday. On Sunday we celebrated Ronel's birthday by going to Mzoli's. We had meat and listened to music for a couple hours. It was pretty fun, but it was an experience trying to order and pick up the meat on our own. You have to pay for the meat by the weight and you have have to give the cooks a little extra if you want your food ready in less than 2 hours.

On Monday I spent the majority of the day packing up stuff for the move at Equal Education. We finally moved out of our very small office. The office that we used to be in was extremely small was about 30ft by 8ft and we have about 12 people working in there. It was so crowded, but now we moved into a larger set of offices. We now have about 4 offices spread out through an apartment complex. The offices are nice, but we do not have internet or telephone lines hooked up yet. In the long run it will be advantageous, but at the moment it is a bit of a pain.

Tuesday at Equal Education we ran a bunch of errands had a Youth Meeting where we showed the Dangerous Minds to the "Equalizers" (youth group members). I didn't get to stay though because I had to make it back for class. Unfortunately class was canceled, but this gave me time to prepare for my exam in my Social Research Methods. Wednesday was especially interesting because this was supposed to be the day of the march. The press still wanted us to do something on that day becausee it was the 33rd anniversary of the march in Cape Town by Coloured students in solidarity with those in Black students in the Soweto Uprising. As a result the whole office went to Cape Town and petitioned and handed out fliers for the campaign. It was a success considering that we handed out all of our fliers and filled up all of the petitions. We had a group of our Equalizers in attendance and Die Burger (an Afrikaans newspaper) took pictures and interviewed some of the staff.

Thursday I went into the office for only a short time, because without the internet there was not much I could do. My two bosses were also not in that day so I went home early. That night we went to the ballet to see Giselle. It was well done and I actually understood a fair amount of what was going on, but ballets aren't really my thing. I came back and worked on my Social Research Methods paper that was do on Friday. I stayed up with Alice, Emily, and Brianna until about 2AM working on the paper, but we all could have finished much earlier. There were some distractions when we all tried to learn how to do the worm.

I got done with it and was able to relax on Friday before we took off for Spring Break. The week was pretty hectic, but we got everything done. I was ready for a much needed break.

Sharp-Sharp. (cool, alright, goodbye in South African slang)