One of things that I have really enjoyed about this program is that you don’t just arrive at the airport and expect to figure it out all by yourself. One of things that was giving me anxiety about this trip was that I thought I would have to do everything on my own.
Fortunately, my anxiety was proven wrong from the very first day. I arrived to Cape Town one day earlier than the recommended day of arrival, and they wouldn’t have a place for me to sleep for the night. But, I reached out, told them about my situation, and someone from Ida Cooper Associates recommended a hostel I could stay at. And I had a pleasant first night in Cape Town, and met very nice South Africans — one who I wrote about — and travelers.
Then, on the next day, I was picked up from the hostel from UCT’s Housing Administrator himself and brought to university residence halls. There, a residence called Kopano, I met many Orientation Leaders (OLs), who greeted me, helped me move into my temporary dorm room, and gave me from free swag.
The OLs became a reference point for us study abroad students.
They took us on tours around important places in the city. They made sure we exchanged our currency and bought any essential items. They had meals with us and made us feel welcome. Out of the many people that I have met here (and there are many), some of the OLs have become some of my most favorite people here. They are amazing.
Overall, the program for study abroad students is super organized. One of things that I enjoy is that there are planned events, both fun and helpful. And one of the events, which is the point of this post, was a tour of the peninsula, which I went on last Sunday, 12 July 2015. As a group of study abroad students and OLs, we took a few large buses around Cape Town, the Central Business District (CBD), down the coast of Africa, to the point where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean meet the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped by Maiden’s Cove, the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Point.
First, I would like to say South Africa is beautiful. It is so beautiful I was overwhelmed by its beauty.
Second, the peninsula tour didn’t just give us all the nice facts about South Africa. The tour guide made sure to point out parts of the city that held strong history of apartheid and slave trade. He pointed out homes that range from ten million USD to a few thousand rands. Poverty and wealth live next to each other. Inequality is a big problem.
Third, which is related to the second point, we went to a place called Ocean View, and it quite a humbling experience.
Ocean View is a township for a large community of coloured people. Under apartheid, it was essentially illegal for coloured people to exist as it was illegal for black and white people to come together to procreate. Therefore, coloured people were displaced from their homes in the 1960s under the Group Areas Act. Ironically, it was named Ocean View because coloured people were displaced from ocean side areas to a place that didn’t have an ocean. Actually, there wasn’t much there when the coloured people were placed their except for a few government buildings. Therefore, essentially everything had to be built by themselves. Now, there are two primary schools and one high school, but still a large lack of opportunity for the population in terms of economic mobility. Ocean View has been built from the ground up.
When we arrived in Ocean View, we stopped by this center which fed us curry with rice, samosas, mushroom quiches, and a large array of desserts and drinks. The best part of my time in Ocean View was the live performances by the Ocean View youth. There was singing and dancing. Singing songs by Beyoncé. Breakdancing (as seen below), popping, stunts. Contemporary dance. All of it was choreographed.
The center at which we ate was a place that cares these youths. It’s like a recreational center. They work with the youth in terms of the performing arts. They are encouraged to express themselves and pursue what they would like. It seems to be a very close community, and they were all very talented. I got to meet some of the performers at the end, and they were very kind and welcoming.
I’m really privileged to have gone on this peninsula tour. It was really special to see the beautiful parts of South Africa, but also learn about its not so great past. Can’t wait to learn and see more about Cape Town and South Africa.
Over and out.