On Tuesday, August 8th a group of Interstudy students and staff had the opportunity to attend a session with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Here’s an excellent recap of the event from Katherine, an Interstudy student studying at the University of Cape Town.
The event began late, but no one seemed to mind waiting. I found myself sitting at the front of a large room that looked like a hybrid of ballroom and lecture theatre, complete with a large organ on one wall. By chance, I was seated between two fascinating individuals and excellent conversationalists: the driver to the vice-chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, and a distinguished woman who spent her career working in the non-profit sector across Southern Africa. We chatted about U.S. politics, the relationship between the U.S. and South Africa, and – of course – what to see, do, and eat in Cape Town. We had just broached the topic of different systems of higher education when the crowd was asked to stand for two national anthems. First, the Star-Spangled Banner. Timid and outnumbered Americans could be heard humming or muttering the lyrics, but the room exploded with sound when the South African national anthem followed. We remained standing until U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped up to the podium. Read more
When thinking about South Africa some of us (myself included) immediately envision the country’s beautiful national parks and sub-tropical climate. During the process of choosing to study in South Africa I had nearly no knowledge of the country’s political history, and barely even knew what Apartheid was. Scratch that. I didn’t know what Apartheid meant or was AT ALL.
Having now spent a year living, studying and traveling throughout Southern Africa I can say that I more fully understand the history of this incredibly beautiful and resilient, spirited region. This is why I am writing this post today, a day that is celebrated across South Africa and the African continent. Read more
Living in a country that is a literally on the opposite end of the world, we as Americans may be predisposed to various notions or judgments about the foreign land of South Africa. As future students of the country, it is important to recognize the 1st and 3rd world elements that South Africa entails. Of course with your acceptance into some of the country’s (and world for that matter) most respected universities you are fortunate to reap the benefits of the best that South Africa has to offer. Whether it be living in the heart of Cape Town, just a cab ride from the Camp’s Bay of Table Mountain, taking a quick cruise in Stellenbosch for a wine tasting on a beautiful vineyard, walking out of your dorm in Port Elizabeth for a quick morning surf, or venturing to the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu Natal you as students will be able to see the best of South Africa has to offer. Read more
Today, South Africans are celebrating Freedom Day in remembrance of the day of the first democratic election in the country in 1994 and the end of apartheid. It was through this election that Nelson Mandela was elected as President of the post-apartheid country. For many South Africans, this is day offers a moment to reflect on the changes, both good and bad, in the country over the past 18 years. One author and activist, Amina Cachalia, reflects on the changes she has seen in South Africa here: Reliving South Africa’s First Freedom Day.
Sitting at my desk at Tufts almost 8,000 miles away from the city where I will spend five months of my life, it’s easy to think of studying abroad as being permanently in the somewhat distant future. However, the rational part of my brain knows that soon I will be leaving behind the school and the people that I have loved for two and a half years, and while I will be making new memories with people I haven’t met yet, life will go on without me at Tufts.
Luckily I also know that it will be worth it. While I’m trying not to form too many expectations about my semester abroad, I somehow consistently find myself eagerly reading other students’ blogs, or Google-mapping random streets in Cape Town and trying to imagine myself walking down the bustling sidewalks. I can’t wait to see the country that is home to such international inspirations as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the country whose people formed a wave of activism so powerful it was able to overturn one of the most profoundly oppressive racist regimes of the 20th century. I can’t wait to learn about South Africa from the perspective of someone living there, to hike the Table Mountains, see the sun set on the African coast, experience the diversity of UCT, and fully immerse myself in the culture of the city I have been daydreaming about for months.
Study abroad is one of the most, if not the most valuable experience I have had to date in my academic career and personal life. My expectations have always been exceeded in a positive way, although adjusting to a foreign environment and new cultures can be challenging at times. However, this IS the unique opportunity of study abroad, writing one’s own survival guide to life, looking beyond the constraints of what one knows and allowing oneself to be pleasantly surprised. Having visited South Africa on two occasions, for volunteer work in Cape Town in 2008 and Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup, I am of the opinion that this country, its history, politics and cultural melange are mired with paradoxes. I am fascinated by the entrepreneurial spirit and progressive thinking of the city of Johannesburg where races appear to have transcended the legacy of apartheid as opposed to the palpable sentiment of separation one feels in Cape Town. Read more
Interstudy students participating on the Interstudy Summer Program to the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Howard College just missed a run in with the First Lady of the United States! The First Lady, Michelle Obama, and her daughters Malia and Sasha were visiting in South Africa yesterday with a rare visit with Nelson Mandela, according to the NY Times. The family also visited the apartheid museum and the township of Soweto, where Nelson Mandela grew up. Read more
Today is Human Rights Day in South Africa. On this day, 51 years ago, 69 people were killed when police opened fire on a demonstration in Sharpeville, a township not far from Johannesburg. It was this event that motivated the start of an armed resistance in South Africa as well as world condemnation of the policies established during Apartheid. Read more