Thursday, September 9, 2010

The First Few Days...

Our first two days in East London were a whirlwind of meeting with different Niagara College partners—The Enterprise Development Centre, Border Kei Chamber of Business, Walter Sisulu University Research Department and Counselling Services, Akona from Statistics South Africa, and the Ikhwezi Lokusa Wellness Centre for HIV/AIDS. My mind was flooded with ideas and it was overwhelming to meet with all of these interesting people and organizations and learn about their projects and goals and the successes of previous interns.

As with arriving in any new place, the first two days were a lesson in being in a new city, country, continent...

The driver sits on the right side and drives on the left—driving is an exercise in courage as is crossing the street and I think I should have included getting hit by a car or being in the van with Jos at the wheel at night on my official Risk Management plan.
Washroom doors lock from the inside with a skeleton key—the count of locking myself in the bathroom stands at 4.
My assumption that the entire continent of Africa is always hot has been destroyed as it was 7 degrees overnight—it was much warmer in Canada. But I take comfort in the fact that their summer is just beginning, while the rest of you are beginning the inevitable descent into winter.
The trees, plants, and flowers are nearly identical to Hawaii—jacaranda, plumeria, night-blooming jasmine, eucalyptus, calalillies, bougainvillea, avocado, birds of paradise, and palms and ferns. I’ve had papaya every morning for breakfast!
The first couple of days have been a demonstration of the great contrasts, contradictions, and complexity of life in South Africa. The chaos of overcrowded mini-buses, plastic bag tornadoes in the streets, and hawkers at intersections occurs at the same time as we meet incredibly educated university staff and drive by huge manicured homes with large dogs, barbed wire, and electric fences.
We're off to Mthatha to discover the second city of our internship!

100 Rand Note (about 6.8 Rand to $1CDN)

1 comment:

  1. This was such a great post Lise! I really like your writing style- and I'm really excited to see your pictures.

    If sounds like there are so many opportunities for strong projects in South Africa- best of luck!