Tag Archives: Study Abroad

Home stay switcheroo

A brief report this Saturday from my coffee shop hot spot at the Cavendish Mall…Jen and Kym had a few issues arise at their home stay this week that left them feeling unwelcome. 😦 The GHS staff supported us in switching their home stay Friday. I went along to oversee the transition, and I found their host mom to be a bit chilly, and even kind of pouty (probably hosting students from other countries isn’t the best fit for her, just sayin’).

I am happy to report that they now reside with Courtney and Crystal and the “home stay hostess with the mostest” Sabine (and her husband, Yul, two young daughters, the girls’ grandpa, Erica the maid, and two [?] dogs). I hope and pray this works out for the remaining two weeks…I think it will be far better than where they were. When I SMS’d them last night, they sounded good. My host, Sheila, has offered up her spare room too, so it’s good to know we have options and nice people here to help us. We appreciate your continued prayers…despite all the “girls” having very good coping skills, this is still quite a stretching experience!

The rain continued off and on much of Friday, but today is looking better, though still some showers. I went with Sheila and another friend, Donna, to the shops at Kalk Bay and lunch toward Simon Town…it was a nice outing. Tonight I will be watching the big rugby match between South Africa and England…go Springboks!!! I look forward to seeing the girls tomorrow for our Hermanus whale-watching adventure…

Cape Town rain

Wow, it sure can rain here in Cape Town! I think “downpour” is a more suitable term. Being from Oregon, we are used to rain and don’t mind being out in it, but this is beyond our typical Oregon drizzly showers. Wednesday night was windy and wet…I woke several times to the sounds on the roof and outside the window. Sheila was going to drive me to class, but her car wouldn’t start. So, I put on a rain poncho over my coat, backpack, etc. (it’s a great look…I’m such a fashion-plate), and headed out on foot.

I was late at this point (after being ready extra early), so I didn’t want to wait for Brenda who was looking for a ride for me. It wasn’t too bad initially, but then I turned a corner into the wind, got splashed (like over my head splashed) by two cars, and by the time Brenda found me, I was soaked everywhere the poncho didn’t cover…even through my boots! I guess it was my turn to experience what the students felt last week. I’ve included a picture and short video of the rain (sorry I don’t have more interesting material…the girls offered to take my picture, but I declined).

Thankfully, Kjersten and Kelsey’s “mom,” Beryl, brought them all in their safari-edition Land Rover (no joke…they do their own game drives in this vehicle and have been to Botswana, Namibia, and beyond, “dad” Patty told me when he picked us up). We had our class and tried to stay warm…without inside heat, it is challenging, but I guess that’s why there’s coffee and tea (and Port in the evenings). 🙂

We had good discussions once again. We talked about how we are all the same at some level – that we can see beyond our differences – and yet our very different cultures have a significant impact on our thinking, behaviors, emotions, etc. It is a delicate balance to hold…and to try to understand. We learned about how qualitative research methods tend to work better (than quantitative) when we study global issues. We talked about how psychology has much to offer to help address global problems, but often fails to meet this call.

The students are struggling a little bit with wanting to see the images of Africa we have in our minds…the mud huts and colorful, yet impoverished, communities. Cape Town is a modern city and, although there is poverty here, we are removed from it for the most part. I hope our township visit (which was postponed until better weather) provides a glimpse at this sort of urban community. Or perhaps our drive to Hermanus will give us a look at the rural communities such as these. It’s like we can almost see, touch, and help the dire situations we know exist here, but they remain out of our reach.

Even so, the six young women are making big differences with those they encounter, whether through their practicum placements, home stays, with one another, or by the impression they leave on the train. 🙂 Like I said yesterday, I am very proud of them (& they did well on their first exam too)!

P.S. It rained hard Thursday night, but so far Friday morning is a bit brighter…here’s hoping for blue skies this weekend (or at least not downpours). FYI, our Hermanus tour has been bumped to Sunday to improve our chances of good whale-watching weather. Long live Gumby!

Quiet Tuesday morning report

Without having our excursion Monday afternoon, I’m afraid I don’t have much to report this Tuesday morning. After Monday’s class, we walked over to GHS to take care of a few miscellaneous tasks, including booking an additional excursion to Hermanus, a fishing village 122km southeast of Cape Town. My travel book states that it is “the best land-based whale-watching destination in the world.” Wow! And, we will also get to stop at another penguin colony at Bettie’s Beach. 🙂 It only costs R300 (~$35) for the whole day, so we thought we’d give it a try this Saturday. GHS has a social planner, a guy named Marius, and we have all of the additional outings available to us at reduced prices. It is a pretty nice arrangement!

Today we have our first exam in the Global Psychology class for four of the students (the other two – our CU alums, Courtney & Kelsey! – already took the class from me at Concordia). Monday afternoon, it reached just over 80 degrees, so the students got some rays while studying. We all agree that this weather, though not perfect (a week ago was the downpour day) is pretty nice for fall/winter.

After our exam/class, we will have lunch and go (with Rashied) to the District Six Museum and Greenmarket Square. I hope to file a full report tomorrow, though it won’t be first thing in the morning as it is practicum day. I will be joining Kym and Jen at the Sarah Fox Recovery Hospital. I will do my best to post to the blog in the afternoon…as of this morning, the wifi at GHS was back in action (hopefully it will stay that way)!

Please continue to remember us in your prayers…we are fine but still need to feel the strength, support, and love from back home. Thank you.

Baby Gumby Monday

Brenda texted while we were in class that she forgot that the District Six Museum closes early on Mondays. So we rescheduled our outing till Tuesday, reminding us once again of Gumby (can you find him in this picture?). Hopefully Kelsey and Kjersten will be feeling better and can join us then.

We had a good class and a meaningful discussion of some of the issues we are observing, e.g., poverty, racism, sexual violence, HIV/AIDS. There is so much to learn, and so many ways to make an impact. We must continue to ask ourselves, “what can we do at this point in time for this one?” I have no doubt that these students will continue to make a difference because of this experience.

TGIF

I don’t have much to report on this sunny Friday morning in Cape Town. I imagine the students will be saying “TGIF” by the end of the day as they have had a very busy week. Today they go to their practicum placements…I hope they go well.

I am catching up on some online tasks and preparing for classes next week. Sheila, Binci, and I will be going to lunch in the neighborhood…on the first Friday of each month, the local SAMiller Brewing Company in Newlands delivers kegs of beer by horse and cart. Sounds intriguing (& something my husband would really enjoy!). I will do my best to be a good partaker and reporter of the experience.

Tomorrow, we have our all-day excursion with our pal, Rashied, to the “jackass” penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach and then on to the Cape of Good Hope. That’s truly the name of the cute little penguins here, though I couldn’t bring myself to send my 11-year-old son a postcard with that on it (I went with the more generic one that says “African penguins,” and then regretted it as I think he’d get a kick out of the word “jackass”). 🙂 Perhaps we’ll learn what’s behind the name. We saw three of them on Robben Island yesterday, and they are very cute little guys. We’ve already been warned about how smelly their colony will be.

The Cape of Good Hope is not technically where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, though I guess that’s how the tourist attraction bit frames it up. We’ve been told to bring our “swimming costumes,” so hopefully it will be warm enough to get in the water. Then we can claim that we had our feet in two oceans simultaneously, however false that may be.

In order to not disappoint, I have attached a few pictures, though nothing too exciting: the lovely ivy security trim on the gate of GHS (look closely…yikes!), along with our classroom and “lounge” at Abbadale. Two of the girls (please do not take offense at that term…consistently they are called girls and I am a lady, because I am older and married, I suppose), have already taken the Global Psychology class (& graduated May 5th!) – Courtney & Kelsey – so they hang out in the lounge area while we meet in the adjacent room. The maids of Abbadle kindly wash our water glasses and tea/coffee cups each day, so we are pretty spoiled here. As for the ivy trim, that is just one of many options here…there also is razor wire, barbed wire, and humming electric fences atop people’s gates and walls.

I will sign off until Monday (fingers crossed). Thank you for following along, as well as for your prayers. We all are doing well, staying healthy and safe, and learning a lot, so I guess it’s all going according to plan! 🙂

Brief Update

I talked with Erin this morning and she and her students are well. However, their internet connection has been down for the past couple of days and as such she hasn’t been able to post her latest notes and pictures. She’ll be back at GHS tomorrow so hopefully by then we’ll see something new here.

Weekend R&R…& Students!

The weekend consisted of rest and relaxation for the most part. Saturday started with more rain, so I spent the morning reading & relaxing. Then the skies cleared, and Sheila treated me to an afternoon at a winery, or vineyard as they call them here (literally saying “vin yard”), called Hazendal, near the wine region of Stellenbosch (about 35 minutes east of Cape Town; Google it and you’ll see what a huge wine region this is).

Sheila had purchased a Groupon type of deal for wine tasting and lunch. I’m not sure of the total cost (I have to treat the next time), but I saw that it only cost R10 or about $1.50 for 5 tastes…and they are generous pours. And, even more, our waiter gave us a 6th one at no charge. He could tell I was from America, and when I told him that our region produces quite a lot of wine, he was surprised saying that he thought most wine comes from South Africa. 🙂 I guess we’re all a bit ethnocentric.

We enjoyed our cheese plate (including hugely popular fig jam) with our first few tastes, and then we had lunch. Afterward, we made our selections of what bottles to buy, though there was no pressure at all to purchase anything. We each selected three…I went with a Merlot that Reed will love, along with a red blend of Merlot, Cab, & Shiraz (R35!), and a Sauvignon Blanc. The total was R142, or ~$20, and these are very good wines (no comments, Reed, about my cheap wine tastes as I didn’t pick based on price!). You can see the lovely winery – or vineyard – with it’s traditional Dutch/Cape architecture, and some wine/food pics attached (you may notice that their logo looks a bit like Edgefield’s Black Rabbit). I also got a couple of good scenery pics from the car of their magical mountain.

Saturday night consisted of smoked salmon salads & bruschetta, a bit more merlot, and a rugby match on TV with Sheila’s neighbor, Binci (as in “inci binci spider”), joining us. Rugby is HUGE here, as is cricket…I walk by the cricket club on my way to school, as well as the rugby stadium (sponsored by DHL)…and of course football (you know, what we call soccer; Sheila supports the Arsenal [a UK team], FYI).

South Africa is still relishing in hosting the 2010 World Cup, despite the economic toll the 10 (I think) newly constructed stadiums have taken on the country’s economy. The church team saw the orange one in Nelspruit, near Kruger, which our driver said sits empty now. I got a peek of the new Cape Town stadium, and I saw the massive (favorite word here & in the UK…Reed, remember Stonehenge?) practice stadium too. Sheila said their stadium is used for rugby, soccer, and concerts, but feels the old one would’ve been suitable for the Cup (she said FIFA’s requirements resulted in the new one).

Anyway, it is rugby season in the winter, and the local Capetonian team, the Stormers, were away, taking on the Sharks of Durban. It was a big match as the Stormers sit atop the 15-team-SA-league with a record of 10-1. Unfortunately, I must be a jinx as the Sharks won 25-20. 😦 I wasn’t really into it (shocker, I know), but I enjoyed the experience. I actually understood it by the end, and I can appreciate its much faster pace than American football…and complete lack of protective gear! Binci and Sheila clearly had their favorite players (Patrick Lambie for the Sharks and Peter Grant for the Stormers, both of whom were described as “luscious” by my local rugby enthusiasts). 🙂 Sheila and her brother actually have season tickets to the Stormers (& can walk from Sheila’s house), so they are pretty big fans I gather.

It was great to greet my students Sunday morning (of course)! Stanford picked me up at 9:45 and we made the short trek to the airport, after picking up two Brazilians who were going back home (I learned that Brazilians take a long time to say goodbye and have a LOT of luggage). I’ve included a picture of us with Stanford at the airport (don’t worry, we didn’t lose Kym; she arrived the day prior). They all looked good but said they were very tired, of course. I pray they rest well and can hit the ground running Monday morning. They have the energy of youth on their side I guess.

We drove to Plumstead where they all are staying. First we dropped off Jen with her hosts, Clive & Ursula Baatjes. Kym is at this homestay too, but she and Ursula were on a walk so I did not get to see her. Clive said she had settled in nicely and woke early this morning. Next we took Courtney and Crystal to the home of Yul & Sabine Eckardt, where we also met their 6-year-old daughter, Lauren. They had a pretty intimidating looking German Shepherd that Courtney wasn’t too happy to see. Hopefully the pooch is a nice family dog once s/he knows you’re part of the family. Finally, we delivered Kelsey and Kjersten to their hosts, Patrick & Beryl Riley, a nice older couple who had just returned from church. All of the hosts were very warm and I trust the “girls” (as the GHS staff calls them) settled in well today and got some good rest.

Sunday afternoon, Sheila drove us through Camps Bay and Bantry Bay to Sea Point, where we walked along the Atlantic for about an hour (several pictures are below). Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, was off in the distance (I’ll be taking the ferry there with the students Tuesday if the weather holds). Being a beautiful “winter” day (I’m guessing close to 70 degrees, sunny, & no wind), lots of people were out walking, jogging, and playing in the park. On our return walk, we even stopped for gelato…yum.

We drove past the Table Mountain cable car on the way, and when we returned she took us through downtown Cape Town, including the Waterfront, where I’ll be staying once my family arrives on June 21. it looks like a LOT of fun with attractions (including a wheel like the London Eye), shops, restaurants, and a working dockyard…something for everyone.

Finally, on the way back to Sheila’s, we stopped at the Cecil Rhodes memorial. It boasts a great view of the city/cape, as well as a pretty substantial granite memorial, complete with several lions, which children appear to enjoy climbing. Rhodes was a diamond and gold mine baron, and he set aside a large amount of land (i.e., where the memorial sits) for conservation. I think he was a president of SA too, though I’m not sure and my guidebook doesn’t say.

It was a great afternoon excursion, and I’m starting to get my directions figured out (though I still often feel turned around, which isn’t like me as I have a pretty good sense of direction [just ask my parents how I helped navigate the family through New York when I was 16…but don’t ask Reed how I did on our way to Normandy, France]). 🙂

When we got home, I thought I’d try to call my niece, Tess, who graduates from high school today in Vinton, Iowa. Fortunately, my timing was perfect as I got to speak with her, as well as my sister, two young nieces, and my mom. It’s a big day there, and I’m so sorry to miss it…but, the good news is Tess will be coming along with the family next month for our South Africa/Swaziland adventure. (Not a bad way to celebrate one’s high school graduation, if you ask me!)

The students and I have a very full week – probably our fullest of the four – with orientations, outings, classes, practicum experiences, and getting accustomed to this place. They (we) will be learning so much just by being in such an international setting. I feel that experiences like these are incredibly valuable, and they are certainly key in meeting Concordia’s mission of preparing leaders to transform society…we must be prepared to transform diverse segments of society, not just our own. I hope to have some exciting posts…stay tuned!

NOTE: Until welcoming my students at the airport Sunday, I had not encountered an American since the church team and I parted ways on Tuesday. Nearly five days with no Americans around…so strange. Makes me feel kind of special and weird all at the same time!

Success

Well, it is Thursday afternoon, just before 4:00 as I type, though I won’t be able to post until morning. I thought I should jot down some of my successes while they’re fresh.

I had a good chunk of time at GHS earlier today and got quite a few pictures from Swaziland and Kruger posted. It is not all of them, but it will have to be it for now (I had to upload them in groups of five, and it was very slow!). I also caught up on some email. I sure take for granted having wifi everywhere back home! I will miss it this weekend.

Then Brenda and I walked to the guest house where our classroom will be, at least for the first half of the time. I was wrong in naming it “Aberdeen” – it is “Abbadale.” Not sure if you can find it online or not. A very formal hostess, Judy, greeted us and briefed us on the security system (which, by the way, I set off when I returned to Sheila’s). Anyway, she took us upstairs, and Reed will be glad to hear that I was able to connect to the TV in the classroom to display my Powerpoint files and videos from my iPad! (I think I hear him saying, “I told you that there was nothing to worry about.”) Yay, what a relief!

Then I walked to the Pick ‘n Pay or PnP (a store with everything…kind of a Target or Walmart but it seems way cooler to me). I was unable to convert my travel phone there to a South Africa number, but there was a Vodacom store right across the way that took care of it. I think I have the sim card switching system figured out so I’ll still use my UK number to make calls home, but this will be good to make local calls to GHS, Sheila, etc. should I need assistance, as well as to receive calls. You have to register with your passport to do this, so it feels kind of official. I purchased 50 Rand of airtime and the guy told me how to check my balance. Hope it works if I need it.

Then I bought some leggings and slippers (see pic) at the PnP clothing store (for a grand total of about $14…things are cheap here). It was good to see racks of warm clothes should I discover I didn’t pack well enough for Cape Town’s winter. Then I entered the grocery portion to get lunch supplies (bread, Skippy!, yogurt, apples, crackers, etc.) and a restock of shampoo and toothpaste. I also “splurged” on a box of Kleenex as I haven’t seen any since arriving. And I bought a washcloth…also MIA in Africa. Still not sure how to solve my stinky towel problem tactfully…

I trudged home with a heavy load. It is warmer here today, so that feels nice. I actually got hot walking and had to stuff my coat in my backpack. Funny story…when I was waking to GHS this morning, I heard someone call to me from the road. I kept walking, assuming it was a street peddler (there are many here). Then I looked and it was Stanford, the GHS driver, and Brenda, who had just picked up some groceries for the students. I hopped in and rode the rest of the way. Brenda said I already looked like at true Cape Tonian by the way I was waking. That helped my confidence as I kinda feel like a bumpkin. Speaking of which, the PnP checker commented on my accent, which she described as a drawl. 🙂 And, did you know you have to weigh your produce and place a label on it before you pay? Now I do.

I am very excited to get my students here…I’m hoping to be able to ride along with Stanford to fetch them this weekend. The main purpose of GHS is teaching English to college-agers from around the world. There are many from South America here now, as well as parts of Europe (especially Germany), Asia, and the Middle East. I’m not sure how much my students will interact with them, but it may be quite interesting…there are social outings they can tag along with too. Hopefully they will stay out of trouble. 🙂 My main observation of the GHS students here is that they smoke a lot. A lot. I think they are from fairly well-to-do families as Brenda told me that they often buy cars while they are here for several months, especially the Asians. The Colombians think it is REALLY cold here. It’s great to be in such a diverse area for awhile, though it feels light years away from Corbett. Still, we are all the same in some ways I suppose.

I feel better about things (I was pretty sad after talking to Reed and the kids last night). I still am not sure why I thought this would be a good idea. But, I think God is working hard on me, and being “alone” here will help me be a better student of His. This down-time in between segments of my trip is not the best, but there wasn’t really a way around it since World Vision set the dates that started this whole thing. I am trying to get rest, orient myself, read (Bible and Catching Fire too, I admit), and journal (in addition to this blog), so I guess I’m accomplishing something. I will wait to explore the downtown, true Cape Town, & the train until I can go with the group.

I really miss my daily life back home…I miss making school lunches, getting the kids to baseball/softball practice, tucking them in, checking on homework, doing our laundry, texting, watching TV, and feeding our pets. Even more I miss the voices and hugs of those I love. I miss my husband – my friend – and his loving smile and kind (& often silly) words. I deeply miss my children…I hope they somehow understand my absence and how it honors this part of me that God (for some reason) created. I miss a lot of things (like my morning coffee…the way I make it with Winco double French roast, ground fresh, steeped in a French press, with nonfat vanilla creamer!). But mostly I miss people…I miss home.

I don’t really miss driving…or cleaning the litter boxes.

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P.S. Friday mid-day now and I haven’t yet walked to GHS to post. It is quite rainy today so I’m hoping it lets up a bit before I venture out. For pics, in addition to my R19.90 (<$3.00) slippers, I’ve included the view from my window, as well as a couple of special messages. 🙂

P.P.S. Sheila drove me. 🙂 And, just a reminder that I can’t post over the weekend as I have no wifi (& haven’t seen evidence of any nearby my home stay). Back online Monday…