The Amy Foundation

The Amy Foundation

25/07/2017

Dear New Jersey self,

Today was pretty AWESOME! The GSE family and I visited The Amy Foundation in Cape Town. The Foundation is a youth skills development and afterschool program. The history of how the foundation was PHENOMENAL, and very inspiring. In a nutshell, Amy Biehl was murdered by 4 black men during the transition from Apartheid to democracy and her mother, Linda Biehl forgave and reconciled with the four men. She gave two of them an opportunity to grow and become great men who now work for her Foundation. It seems unfathomable that Linda Biehl was able to forgive and then, RECONCILE. The next step of reconciliation is usually not taken because people tend to forgive then, walk away. This miraculous act of kindness has caused me to reflect on the times I have forgiven and wondered if I made the next step to reconcile. I am still wondering…

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The Sozo Foundation

The Sozo Foundation

27/07/2017

Dear New Jersey self,

We visited another non-profit, educational organization that empowers youths to strive for a sense of purpose, belongingness, and direction. We visited the Sozo Foundation. The director defined sozo to be the Greek word for to heal, to restore. After a nice nap on the bus drive over, I noticed right away that Sozo Foundation was in the middle of the Vrygond Township in Cape Town. Some of the neighboring building were metal and wooden shacks and some were cargo containers, which surprised me. Our director later explained that he and his wife wanted to be in the heart of the community because they have the vision of the Foundation being community-based. They took time to get to know the local community members and figure out what their needs are. They already had education as a priority which is evident in their afterschool education and skills programs. The Foundation was first created in 2011, so it is still very new while the building was completed in 2015.

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Philippi Horticultural Area & The Slave Lodge

PHA-For-Food-and-Farming.jpg (625×390)

24/07/2017

Dear New Jersey self,

Today was a very passionate and informative day, both in the present and in the past. Just some side information I found interesting along my drive from the University of Cape Town to the Philippi Horticultural Area. There were various signs that caught my curious eyes:

-As a newspaper headline → Crowded Classrooms, a Harsh Reality

-On a taxi car → You’ll never walk alone

-As a newspaper headline → Armed Guards for Trains

-As a newspaper headline → Muslim Audience Kwaad at Comedian

The first one really stood out to me seeing myself as a future educator. I have heard of classrooms not being big enough since class sizes could be up to 30-40 students. WOW… Sometimes, I get nervous with 25 students. On one hand, it is astounding that there are so many learners to even crowd a room. On the other hand, it is upsetting that these learners do not have the adequate environment to learn and thrive. This, I may be uncertain of because sometimes, it just takes a quality, motivated educator to change the lives of young minds.

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The Cape Academy & Table Mountain

The Cape Academy & Table Mountain

21/07/2017

Dear New Jersey self,

After a good amount of thinking on the bus rides between An African Villa to The Cape Academy for Maths, Science and Technology to Groot Constantia and then, to Table Mountain, I realized this was a phenomenally productive day. We ALL enjoyed ourselves with the company we were gifted with and the lovely conversations we were immersed in that I will leave this day to your memory alone through pictures. Just keep in mind that you and the rest of these inspiring ladies have the great power of making a revolutionary and transformative change!

With much love and warm regards, Your South African self

Welkom by(Afrikaans)/Wamkelekile kwi (Xhosa)/Welcome to (English) Ikamva Labantu

Welkom by(Afrikaans)/Wamkelekile kwi (Xhosa)/Welcome to (English) Ikamva Labantu

19 & 20/07/2017

Dear New Jersey self,

Welcome to Cape Town! The flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town on the 19th was interesting, educational, and a learning experience. On the flight, I sat next to a little girl, about elementary to middle school age. She wore an “unaccompanied minor” lanyard. At one point, I noticed she kept staring at me so after we were given our meal, I gave in and started talking with her. She told me she was heading back home from her aunt’s in Johannesburg because their school holiday break was ending. I asked her the usual questions such as what was her favorite class, why, what did she find easy and difficult, what would she like to become when she gets older. Interestingly enough, she wants to be a math teacher, an English teacher and one other career I cannot recall. I remember these two the most because Julie was sitting next to me and she wants to be a math teacher so I had them talk for a little bit.

Afterwards, that’s when the little girl and I really talked for the remainder of the flight. She told me she speaks English, Afrikaans and Xhosa (a click language). I asked her to teach me some words in Afrikaans and Xhosa, and it was wonderful to see how excited she was. In Xhosa, I learned ndaim (me), wena (you), unjani wena? (how are you?), nde pleleu (I’m good), undathad na? (do you love me? PS-This is the phrase I have to constantly repeat to get the pronunciation correct), aiwe (yes), unu (no), and lala pa (sleep there). The process of her figuring out what to teach me was interesting to watch because she not only was unsure where to start but also how to spell the words. It felt hopeful that she focused more on love in translation, especially when she became more excited once the idea popped in her head. It is possible that love drives and motivates her global perspective! Next, she taught me the colors in Afrikaans because she did not know the language as well as Xhosa. The order in which she learned languages was English, Xhosa and Afrikaans. Here is what I learned: rooi (red), wit (white; pronounced as vert), pink as pink, geel (yellow but pronounced with a saliva-driven sound), oranya (orange), blou (pronounced as blue), pres (purple; sounds like pehrse), groun (green; sounds like rhul), and bruin (brown; sounds like brrain). Some of the sounds she introduced to me sound like some Western European sounds which makes some sense given the language’s history. After colors, she taught me some phrases in Afrikaans.

For example:

-Ek en jy = I and you

-Ek is lief vir my ma = I love my mom

-Hoor is it = How are you?

-Goet = Good

-Baie dankie = Thank you

After this Afrikaan and Xhosa lesson, I taught her the basic colors in Spanish and I was just pleased to hear that she did not have much trouble pronouncing the words. The only word she struggled a bit was anaranjado for orange, but I appreciated that she starred the word so she can practice more. It was just a wonderful experience overall because we were exchanging languages in such a comfortable, no pressure space. I am so glad I gave in to her staring at me so that I can practice what I would like to do in life and also so that she walks away with new knowledge. I am sure we both got something out of that small encounter! To think this happened on the flight alone!

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Ukubhiyozela (Xhosa; Celebrating) Nkosi’s Haven

Ukubhiyozela (Xhosa; Celebrating) Nkosi’s Haven

18/07/2017

Dear New Jersey self,

Nkosi’s Haven. This was the main location of today’s learning experience. Nkosi’s Haven is an NGO that houses and supports children and mothers who have HIV/AIDS. The mothers and children are referred to Nkosi’s Haven through self-referral, through someone else, or through a hospital. The children obtain net buddies who are their internet mentors for life, social, and professional skills. This was such a wonderful experience and I honestly was a bit disappointed that I was not as involved as I would have like due to feeling achey.

It felt like we were running a classroom for a while because we were in charge of keeping the children engaged for about two hours. We started off with the True Colors Personality Test and broke up into our groups to see how our colors surface in our social lives and future professional lives. I was in the gold group with Pamela. It was nice to see some of the children involved in talking about what careers they would like to have. For example, one boy wants to be a mechanical engineer, another wants to be in political science, and one wants to be a lawyer. I noticed, overall, they seemed a bit shy to contribute to the conversation. Since I noticed they were hesitant to speak, I tried segwaying into how their colors are evident in their social groups. They continued to be hesitant to speak and the ones who spoke were soft-spoken. When Pamela and I introduced the dangers of social media, they were super hesitant to speak that it felt like we were pulling teeth… When the discussion was over, I conversed with Pamela wondering if they just did not want to talk about it or they did not have access to social media. Not many of them mentioned having a smartphone or not, though I did see other children have one.

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After this, we were led on a tour by one of the seventeen-year-old girls. She was wonderful in telling us what everything was and some fun facts about certain places. One of the things that I noticed right away was how colorful the buildings were! I asked our tour guide if she likes when people come to volunteer, and she said she does because they do work they do not have to do. This is totally understandable because I would like that to! It was also reassuring to feel like they are not emotionally exhausted by the constant volunteers in and out of their gates. In a way, I wondered how the atmosphere was different compared to Teboho’s Trust. There was a lot more to Nkosi’s Haven than Teboho’s Trust. For example, there were a lot of small cottages for specific reasons: children were grouped by age with each cottage having one caretaker, an arts and music cottage, a bakery, a shop for cosmetics and toiletries, a baby day care, a laundry room with washing machines similar to the ones in the USA, a therapy cottage, a medical center, a library, and a fenced play area. All of these cottages were on the slope of a hill so I am sure the children are physically fit. I thought about how Nkosi’s Haven was like a mini community for women and children in need. It felt very homey and I do wish I was a bit more involved have it not been for my aches.

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