TIME passes stealthily in ZA. It seems that I wake up on a Monday morning and within minutes it’s Friday night and were dancing at the bar. I make myself seem old when I say cliche things about how this trip will be over before it began. Then again, most cliches are based in truth.I feel as if I can’t really put into words what I have experienced so far.Since being in ZA I have realized how ART is a crazy big part of my existence. I wish I would have brought some art supplies from home so that I could paint some of the people around me.
Port Elizabeth has encouraged me to evaluate what it means to be a successful person. The concept of success if so broad and varying that it’s hard to pinpoint an exact definition. At this point in my life success to me would be to live a life that makes me really happy. I’ve been thinking about success a lot in part because the circumstances that surround “success” are an adventure to dissect. Seeing homeless people and working with poor communities helped me recognize that a huge part of my success in academics and life is because I grew up in an extremely privileged home. It has been humbling and eye opening to study in a developing country. I went to a local elementary school to learn more about the education system in ZA. I learned that teachers are not required to have a degree, most teachers are just thrown into the classroom with no formal training. Another obstacle that many students face here is a language barrier. The principal of the elementary school said that students speak Xhosa in school up until seventh grade. Then in year eight, all there schooling transitions to English. The schools I have seen so far have limited or no technology. At the highschool I was at they have eight laptops for two thousand students. The odds are stacked against the students in the township schools. South Africa has one worst education systems in Africa and it is reflected in there highschool graduation rates.
On a different note, I went and visited Addo Elephant Park with a group of St.Cloud students who were in ZA for spring break. I’ve never seen so many elephants before. Being close to elephants in a park is a stark contrast to visiting animals in a ZOO.
I have made some really great friends from St.Cloud since I’ve been here. Our favorite activity is laying around in my room and pretending to do homework. Last Friday we went to a Food Truck Festival that was really fun. There was live music and overpriced alcohol. We all had a couple drinks at the Festival and then went to Charlies for dessert and more drinks. It was a busy Friday night to say the least. I think the friendships that I have made here will be the best souvenirs that I bring home.