Wednesday, March 19, 2008

a bit of home here

So the March campaign is now over. The second week was great I had to work at the info stall, which was really nice to see everyone. I like to think that was a success. Nothing to exciting to report on with that. I had a few tests...this week a lot of work. Also a professor from my school came to visit to check out the program along with some other people from other schools. So on Wednesday I left for class at 8:40 and didn’t get home until 10:30 at night because I had class and didn’t have enough time to go home in between and then I had dinner with all of the school representatives to talk about the program. It was nice but it was a long day. I talked to Prof. Meila (from Assumption) and it was great to have a connection at school and that she could see what it was like here. Also Blakelee, my roommate from last semester, had someone from her school and he talked to me about the masters with the Peace Corps in it so that was cool to see what he said about it. On Friday I had to go to home affairs to get my study permit put in my passport. Hestea let us borrow her car and drive it to Paarl which is a half hour 45 minute drive so that was cool. I went with Katy, we only got lost once. But one bad thing about it was that there was a protest about the police brutality here which I am not sure if you guys heard about but apparently it was on CNN but the weekend before there was police raids on a few different bars and basically the police were insane with hitting people and being out of line. There are some videos on youtube. I wasn’t out but I wanted to participate in the march to the mayor. I did sign the petition but it conflicted with me going to get my study permit and I decided that that was more important. There were a lot of people who were going though. Also that night Prof. Meila took me and a few other people including those from my school out to dinner which was great just to talk and reflect on the whole experience. It was great and relaxing. Oh at the first dinner I tried sushi and it was delicious and then we went to this Indian food restaurant, which was wicked good as well. After dinner on Friday Richard, Blakelee's school person, took Chelsea, another roommate still here and me from last semester, out for drinks. It was nice to hear about here and catch up on things even though he didn’t know anything about me it was just kind of nice to have someone here from the US. So that was nice but it was a busy week. On Saturday I studied for a midterm and did lots of work. It was good because I felt that I had accomplished something but I didn’t leave my room once because of the amount of stuff that I had to do. On Sunday me and a few people went to Kirstenbosch gardens in Cape Town for a picnic and to watch a concert. It was really nice. The music was okay we saw Karen Zoid and Selaleo Selota. I liked the opener whish was Selaleo better but it was still nice to get away and see. Here are some pictures from that day.


Guniea Fowl

Louis and Bronwyn

my flip flop tan line (random pictures)

On Monday I went to class and then had an exam that night so I studied for that and really didn’t do too much else. Yesterday I had class ran some errands and tried to get a lot done. Then the peer eds had a get together to celebrate the March campaign but it turned out that not a lot of people showed up. Today I ran errands and got ready for the break, which starts tomorrow where we are going on the garden route and then renting a car and seeing where it takes us. I also bought 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of shorts for R180 which was like $25 so that was nice but not necessary. So that is what I have been up to. I hope you are all well.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Grow up and Get tested

Okay so this week....It was the start of the March Campaign. The March Campaign is the HIV awareness thing that I am involved in. So far it is going fine. I will get to that later but first I will go chronologically. So last Sunday night I went to a concert at the Heldeberg Nature Reserve. First of all I would like to say again how beautiful South Africa is. I am constantly amazed. So the nature reserve surrounds a mountain and while we were driving there there were just some gorgeous views. I went with Bronwyn, Louis (both peer educators) Chelsea and Jenaveve (one of Bronwyn's friends). We went to see Goldfish, which is a South African group. It was really neat. They like mix music like a DJ but they also played saxophones, flutes and a cello. They are actually releasing their second album today (there are 2 of them) and at the concert they played some of their new stuff but they had this singer who was amazing. He had this blues ish voice it was so neat so I would like to get the new cd if possible. It was an outside concert and we had a picnic and I liked the music because it was something that isn’t normal. I ended up buying their cd and got it signed by them. So I got to go to a concert, get a cd and DVD for R125 which I thought was a good deal because that is less than $20. On the way home the sun was setting and you could see the ocean and the other side of the peninsula with these clouds and the colors made it look like it was out of sci fi movie. Here are some pictures from the evening:

there is me next to a tortise. Louis made fun of me because i asked him to take the picture saying that i was the definition of a tourist but hey how often do you see tortises

the concert location

Louis and Chels

Bronwyn and Jenaeve


there was some sort of bok in the picnic area

So that was a great night and a good way to gear up for the March campaign. Monday I worked at the info stall, which is located in the Neelsie (the student center). We have to pass out flyers and try and get people interested in doing the testing and participating in the march. If they came to the info stall we give them an A-bracelet. This stands for asking a question or abstinence. Then you can get a B bracelet for making a booking and also means be faithful. Then you get a C for counseling after the test which stands for condomize and a d for a donation. But that is added information.

The info stall is neat you can some weird reactions. On the table there are free condoms, one is vanilla flavored (interesting I cant figure out why it is flavored but hey what ever works). People have some really interesting questions to ask. Sometimes I feel like the people here should be more aware of HIV since it is so prevalent (6 million people in the country have it) and it makes me concerned that people aren’t aware of it and that I know more about it. I wish it was the other way around but I am glad that I have the opportunity to educate people. So I really enjoy it for the most part and being able to see the peer educators that I don’t normally see around. But it is a hectic time of year since midterms are coming up so I have to try and balance it all. Nothing else too significant to report for Monday. I just had classes info stall and homework.

Tuesday was normal. We had a final meeting before the march to get everything sorted out. I had to run to the grocery store and I had class. Again nothing to special.

Wednesday was the day of the March in March for HIV awareness. It also happened to be the day that a heat wave decided to was in the upper 90's and hasn’t cooled down that much yet which is unseasonably warm for here. So I went to my classes in the morning and then right after I got out of my last morning class me and Lungi had to move tables across campus to the place where the march started. I was very sweaty, very very sweaty. Then we got everything set up and ready in time for the march. Everything for the march ran smoothly. The attendance wasn’t as high as I would have liked but that is okay Stellenbosch is very conservative and apathetic so I am pleased with who came and hopefully it raised some awareness. We had a brass marching band, which was good because it attracted attention so hopefully we made an impression. Here are some pictures:

I kind of cut myself out but my chin, Louis and Matt

Gashaw and me. He came to support me it was very sweet.

Elaine, Jacqui and Bonnie

After that we had to pick up everything and get ready. Then Brownwyn and I talked to one of our prof and got him to allow us to move our test until Friday, which I was very thankful for. After that we ate lunch (about 3pm) and got an ice cream and then helped out with the counseling sight. After that I had class which was so hard to stay awake in but I made it. IT was sociology and we were talking about religion in South Africa, which I was excited to learn about, but it wasn’t interesting and I was exhausted. So I left my room at 8:30 and didn’t get home until 7:00 at night. It was a long day so I ate dinner took a nap and then I had promised some friends that I would hang out with them so that is what I did.

Thursday was good. I had class and prac after that since it was about 5 million degrees outside I went to one of my friends house to swim in the pool which was great since it was so hot. After that I got a call and found out that the peer eds had been invited to attend a drumming cafe by the SRC (the student government organization on campus) which would have normally cost money but wouldn’t if we wore our peer ed T-shirts. We were also VIP's which meant that we got free finger food and wine before the drumming thing, which was awesome and also had reserved seats in the front. I felt very important. It was really cool I like drumming. Here are some pictures from that.

Big D, nothy, Abagail, Jean Maire, Jean Marie's mom

Me Bronwyn, Louis, Sandile

Friday I had to take the test that we postponed and then classes and I worked at the info stall and got tested for HIV...I am negative so that is good. So I got home around 4:30 and then made dinner and Katy and I took a long walk around stellenbosch and got some ice cream. It was nice. We hung out in the room because we had an excursion on Saturday where we had to be on the bus at 7:20 in the morning.

On Saturday we went to Robben Island but when we got there and got our tickets we had time to roam and when it was time to board the boat that got us there we found out that there was a mechanical issue but come back in an hour so we did and then we found out that there was water leaking into the engine so out boat was broken however the people who were on the next boat ride got to go. They split it up by boats so you cant just push everyone back an hour and change the boats that people take (not exactly sure why) so ours was canceled which messed up the whole excursion that AIFS planned but anyway we had some time to kill before we were scheduled to have lunch at a restaurant so Chels, Katy and I walked to Long St. and looked around. After that we went to lunch and it was delicious but not as good as last time because they didn’t have the rotti which they did last semester and the lamb curry stuff. It was a cape Malay food restaurant. It was still good and I still ate too much. Then we went to the district museum, which was interesting, but I was very tired. After that we came home and Chles, Katy, Chris, Courtney, Emily and I all went to watch the Maties rugby game which we won and was nice. I like going to sporting events because I miss that stuff back home. That night I hung out with some friends.

at the Victoria and Alfred water front

some of the AIFS group at lunch

more of the group


Kelsey and Jacqui in Bo-kaap

Catlin and I

Kelsey matched

Rugby game...look at what the stadium looks out on...amazing

So that was my week well today I have been trying to catch up on a bunch of things that I need to do. I hope all is well.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Enjoying the experience

Okay so I apologize for being so bad about this blog so far this semester. I really am sorry I kind of had no motivation to because I had no pictures but now mom and dad sent me a battery charger so I can post pictures so thank you. I know that isn’t an excuse either but hey I am doing one right now. Here are some pictures of Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope and the penguins. Now you can see how this is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is amazing!

Boulder's Beach

Okay anyway. Since then I have been in classes, which are going well. I have more work than last semester because of the 4 mainstream courses. I really enjoy human geography so that is good. I just think it is interesting the different stages of population growth (which is what we are learning about now) and the concept that there are countries that are at zero population growth but with the amount of immigration one would not be able to tell. Nothing to exciting to report in classes yet. Just trying to get through. I have finals that are kind of spread out which is kind of disappointing because it cuts down the time for a trip at the end of the year. We were going to try and go to Lesotho and Swaziland hopefully there is enough time. We are also looking into things to do after the Garden Route and we have some ideas but I will let you know the plans later.

The March Campaign is coming along well. It should be if you think about it since it starts TOMORROW!!! Oh my I am nervous but excited for it to begin. I have been brushing up on my facts and bought the official T-shirt that we needed to buy as well as a green shirt for the March which is on Wednesday so if you are planning to be in the area then I think you should come. I hope that that is pulled off okay. We have had meetings and we have one more before the march. Tomorrow I am going to be working at the info stall distributing information and invites and seeing if we can get people to go for voluntary testing and counseling and I want to go get tested at some point. But I have been hanging up the posters and doing some of the small odd jobs so it will be rewarding when it is all done. So that is that. Wish me luck and "Grow up and get tested".

Some of the "fun" things/ non-school things that I have done are gone to a concert in Kirstenbosch Gardens, which is a beautiful garden in Cape Town. We saw the Rudiementas, which is a mix of reggae and ska. I really liked them and had a lot of fun. We had to bring a picnic and by far Katy's and mine was the best. We had a fruit salad, pita with hummus, pesto, feta tomato pasta and chocolate bar. It was wonderful. Here are some pictures.

the stage

Hestea's boy

Chels Dave and Me

the band

Chels Grand and me

Eric and Michelle

I have been watching some soccer games on TV as well as rugby. I went to watch a Maties rugby game, which they tied and they don’t tie, they always win but the coach put in the bad players in because they were up 31-10. I also watched a friend of mine play in the club team. I went to a soccer tournament for the school and watched a couple of my friends play in it. I have been to a couple of braais and went to see the movie the Golden Age. I think that is about it. I don’t really have many pictures because I just got the battery charger so I apologize. I did however take pictures of my room so here they are:

The view from my window

the kitchen

the kitchen

the bathroom

the shower (it is very small)

My bedroom

My bedroom

my room

my room is on the corner bottom floor

the building

I think that is all from the southern hemisphere where it is still nice and warm and shorts weather most of the time. I hope you all are serving with all the snow in the northeast and the general winter everywhere else. Stay well.