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From May 30th-July 4th, 2011 I'll be studying abroad in South Africa. This blog will be for all of the amazing people in my life who have chosen to be part of my journey and are keeping my tummy full.

Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of Justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and human life.

Bungee Jump!

South African advertising and media watchdog rules that Israel can be called an "apartheid" state

mohandasgandhi:

A bold ruling by South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed all complaints relating to a radio advert which called for a boycott of Israel and compared the Zionist state to Apartheid South Africa. The ruling referred to a message broadcast on South African Broadcasting Company’s station 5fm by the lead guitarist of Faithless in support of the South African Artists Against Apartheid collective.

(Read more)

They might know, right?

My Classmates

Although there were some informational meetings prior to our departure to South Africa, I consider our first meeting at the airport at JFK since all 16 of us were together for the first time awaiting our flight to Johannesburg.   A group of 16 CSUF students eager to learn and experience what it’s like to live in South Africa, eating meals together, studying together, shopping together, and getting sick together. 

We were complete strangers living together at Crow’s Nest for 5 weeks, and although each of us come from different backgrounds, we will all have this entire experience to share.  From Human Services, Health Science, American Studies, Biology, English, Theature, Communications, Political Science, and all these other majors in our group, we really do come from different perspectives.  It’s hard to imagine that you can build such strong relationships within a group so diverse, but this South Africa class of Summer 2011 has been lucky enough to do that.  I can’t stress enough how amazing I think so many of these people are.  There have just been so many times when I just sit there with this sense of awe…and all I can say is, “I LOVE our group”. 

Our sense of humor as a whole is so on point, it’s insane to me that we can all share as many laughs as we have on this trip.  The one-liners, inappropriate pictures, and intellectual conversations about our bodily functions…these are the moments I wish we had documented.

Meat pies, diarrhea, lambhouf (because it’s not pronounced lambhoof), brutal fruit, savanna dry, Gondwana’s! , “Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!” , “First touching animals, next touching children!”, Madibaz café, Pick N’ Pay, Uncle Shaddly aka Moses, “authentic”, bungee jumping, cuddling with animals, cooking dinner on hot plates, bumpy bus rides, karaoke, our confidence boosting conversation at the farm, and all the other things I can’t remember right now but … maria’s laugh, cori’s laugh and planking, anil’s nerdiness, mel’s eating and “bomb easy mac”, ashley’s sarcasm, gabby’s tim face and bamboo, katie’s humor (seriously), jessica’s “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever!”, aubree’s tattoos, melissa’s…impressions haha, kristina’s BAAAAd jokes, christie’s awesomeness for our shared experience at the airport!, marla’s paranoia in the most positive sense haha, tiffany’s expertise on castrating sheep and being such a great roommate, taylor’s “YA BITCH!” haha, and our professor, Carrie’s general awesomeness as a person/educator.

These are only a snippet of the things that I will remember about this trip and these people, and being around this group has played such a big role in my experience in South Africa.  We are hilarious, fun, intelligent, open minded, genuine, sarcastic, friendly, generous, passionate and just so effing cool, and I’m excited to see what else life has in store for us. 

Honestly, being surrounded by these people not only makes me feel good about myself as a person because I’ve connected with them, but meeting them and knowing that there are so many genuinely good people in the world who are so different yet so similar…gives me hope.  It gives me hope that such a good group of students exists within our generation.  We are a group of students who want to learn as much as we can, and want to use our knowledge to do good.  Whether it’s in South Africa, United States, or anywhere else on the globe, I can already picture each one of us contributing to make this world a better place.

Ubuntu

I’ve noticed over and over that there’s a pattern in the decisions that I make.  I seem to just do things before I fully knowing why I do them.  I know they always tell you that you’re supposed to think things through or think before you act, which most of the time I definitely do.  I am the kind of person that over thinks something, analyzing every possible outcome before making a decision, but then sometimes, I just do what feels right.  South Africa felt right to me at the time, and I explained that in my previous post that at first I didn’t understand why I wanted to go to South Africa, until I had already started the process. 

Today, I have come to another realization that further validates my decision to be in this country.  I bought the NMMU shirt (from my previous post), and I also picked up the pamphlet of the 5 core values of the university.  All the words were recognizable except for the word Ubuntu.  When I asked the cashier what it meant, she had briefly explained something about a sense of community and taking care of each other.  I thought that was cool, and didn’t look into the word any further.  For some reason on the bus ride home from Cape Town today, I couldn’t get it out of my head. 

 This concept of taking care of each other, I mean that’s pretty simple isn’t it?  I myself have certainly come to believe that we as human beings were put on this Earth to care for one another and watch out for each other.  If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t be a Human Services major.   The individualistic society that our own country has been founded on, isn’t the kind of world that I believe is the best for all people, if I did then maybe I’d be a business major (no offense to all the business majors).  Individualism is great, but not to the extent where profits are made at the loss of so many others.  Anyways, that’s not the point of this post.

 

Ubuntu: Ubuntu (Zulu/Xhosa pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼú]; English: /ʊˈbʊntuː/ uu-buun-too) is an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of southern Africa. Ubuntu is seen as a classical African concept.

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” –Desmond Tutu

From other definitions and explanations of Ubuntu, which you can also find on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_%28philosophy%29 , I can’t help but think about how much this philosophy explains so much about who I’m trying to be. 

There have been so many occasions when I’m talking to myself in my head (don’t act like you don’t do it too!) and I think about my purpose and life and I just end up feeling like it’s not about living for myself anymore, it’s about doing something with myself that will benefit the rest of the world…but it’s a scary thought to think that you’re no longer living for yourself anymore…so then I just stop thinking about it and go on with my day haha. 

To add to this, there have been several moments on this trip when I see the cooperation of my amazing classmates and think, “ubuntu”, and it just makes me so happy. 

Seka, if you’re reading this, how many times have we agreed, that life is about the relationships you have? Maybe we were meant to live in Africa. Haha

So reason #48927942 on why I the universe made me choose South Africa, because of Ubuntu.

 

 

June 28, 2011

When writing can no longer contain the amount of thoughts that are racing through my mind, I break it down into a simpler form.

Ubuntu

Student Culture

South Africa’s complexity and beauty

Home

Reality

What the heck am I going to do with my life?

Nomad

I used to be proud of the fact that I’ve never lived my life with my guard up.  Opening up and allowing myself to never live within my own shell was one of my best attributes.  It was certainly one of my most genuine…but recently, that hasn’t been the case.   Then again, maybe the fact that I can even wrestle with these feelings shows that I will never lack the ability to connect.

Maranatha-tomorrow is our last day with these amazing kids.  It doesn’t make sense to dread saying goodbye to people you’ve only met 2 weeks ago.  We’ve barely learned each other’s names, and I know nothing about your lives beyond your smiles and laughs.  To be honest, at the moment I’m considering whether I should even hug each one of you goodbye like we usually do because letting go might be too hard.   I can’t really recall hugging someone, knowing that it’s the last time I’ll see them.

"Fear is temporary, regret is forever."

It’s hard to believe that I wasn’t scared before I jumped off a 708ft bridge.  When you see my footage and my classmates, I’m pretty excited and I’m dancing around to the loud music they were playing.  I tried requesting Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin” or a Lupe Fiasco song before my jump but they had a limited selection.  They actually played a song that I’ve heard almost every night that I’ve gone out (Dennis Ferrer-Hey Hey) and it’s the song that I will always associate with South Africa.

I was still dancing around as they strapped my ankles together, and as I hopped to the edge of the platform I was pretty excited about potentially leaping to my death.  I know bungee jumping is scary, if it wasnt…it wouldnt be a big deal.  And this actually never appealed to me, i always thought sky diving was cooler.  But the fact that his is the HIGHEST BUNGEE BRIDGE IN THE WORLD, that was enticing…when would I ever get the chance to go THIS BIG ever again?  So I was convinced…and pressured by donations, to jump. 

And the whole dying thing, I figured if I’m going to die…I would rather die doing something EPIC, than dying from an illness or sitting on my sofa…I think it’s cool to end your life in a way that’s memorable. Pretty weird way to look at it but as my classmates know…I’m all for an EPIC DEATH. haha

So…the fear of what I was doing didn’t actually hit me until I had already jumped (which i’m thankful for!) and unfortunately I’m such an ungraceful person that my pictures are just funny and not actually cool. haha…once I can get the video in the correct format I can show everyone, but until then…we’re both just going to have to be patient. 

Seriously it was scary, not even going to lie.  And when I was hanging there I wanted to close my eyes…but the view of the water and the mountains…and my entire surrounding was just TOO beautiful not to take it in. 

Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee bridge in the world!

Me petting a cheetah, because I can!