Our Second Weekend in Chintsa – Bulungula Lodge

This gallery contains 17 photos.

After our overnight stay at the Mbolompo Home stay, we began the next day with a tour by Roger Galloway, who is coordinating the building of home stays in the of the rural village of Zithulele; located in the Eastern … Continue reading

Port Elizabeth Reflection

Our venture in Port Elizabeth took us into three (3) major townships:

  1. New Brighton – W. B. Tshume and Charles Duna Primary Schools;
  2. Kwanoxolo – Emmanuel Advice Care Center;
  3. Kwazakhele – Jerusalem Home and the Shebeen.

During these experiences, there were a great number of life lessons that surfaced for me.

Studying abroad is one of the biggest steps you can take outside of your comfort zone.  I have traveled abroad in a diverse group from different cultures and we have been challenged with culture shock.  Although culture is variously defined, it is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns, which includes ways of living together, value systems, traditions, behaviors and beliefs.  The group’s adjustment process intensified during our transition and our social space clashed with each other.  Our study abroad experience should have been empirically observed as an opportunity to develop ways of managing and building social relationships, especially among ourselves.

As we became connected in South Africa, multi-cultural collaboration was increasingly needed.  The cultural differences among our group existed and became part of our relationships, became barriers to working together and challenged the collaboration.  As people from different cultures working together, values conflicted and individuals sometimes reacted in ways that made the partnership ineffective.

In order to promote a unified effort, we needed to overcome differences and understand one person was not going to know everything.  It was important that everyone understood and agreed to the purpose of the collaboration, the degree of commitment required and the expectation of the people involved in the effort.  An effective multicultural collaboration would have allowed us to learn from each other, inspires a sense of community, to greater productivity and a happier environment.

Culture can be different for each individual and therefore affected by it differently.  In order to work with people from different cultural groups effectively, I personally feel it necessary to build sturdy and caring relationships based on trust, understanding, and shared goals.  Because trusting relationships are the glue that holds people together as they work on a common problem, they will need to support each other in order to stay with the effort, even when it feels discouraging.  People need to resist the efforts of those who use divide-and-conquer techniques–pitting one group against another.

Each situation is different and may require a different solution.  Part of the process of becoming culturally aware is knowing that you don’t know everything, situations may not make sense and that your assumptions may be wrong.  Assume differences, not similarities.  It is important to take the appropriate amount of time to evaluate situations, for the unique situation it is, before you act.

The more complicated and uncertain life is, the more we tend to seek control.  Sometimes good intentions to solve problems can get out of control.  Planting seeds has power.  The growth of the seeds is out of our control and we should avoid the temptation to check on them.  When we have sown the seeds, we have done all we can do.  We should go about our business and leave the seeds to do what they do.  We tend to want to help the seeds grow.   The seed will sprout; it may take a minute, an hour, a month or maybe even years.

Ultimately, this experience has shown me the value of the Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you will have them do unto you.”  Though, this rule is widely stated and used, I think it is interpreted in many ways.  My interpretation of this rule means, “Don’t expect what you are unwilling or unable to give.”  For example, don’t expect kindness, if you cannot be kind; don’t expect friendliness, if you cannot be friendly; don’t expect trust, if you cannot be trusting; don’t expect to be respected, if you cannot give respect.  When you expect what you are unable or unwilling to give, you are a user who takes advantage of givers in life.

In order to gain insight into a different culture, you must be able to understand the state of mind, beliefs, desires and particularly emotions of others.  In order to understand another person, we need to try standing in their shoes. Through empathy we learn of how other people would like to be treated by us.

This journey and hopefully more life lessons continue as we move to Cinsta East…

Us packed up to move to Cinsta East…

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My Favorite Place in Port Elizabeth – King’s Beach

While we were engrossed in working in the townships, I found my most favorite place in Port Elizabeth.

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It was right across the street from where we were living.

Where we lived

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The street I had to cross to get to Kings Beach

King’s Beach, a 1.6km stretch of golden sand between the harbor wall and the neighboring Humewood Beach, is the perfect family beach, with plenty of space and well-maintained change rooms and ablution facilities.

Scenes I shot during my visits to King’s Beach

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One afternoon, I had lunch at Angelo’s, Afritalian Cafe and enjoyed a tasty pasta and a slice of Red Velvet cake that was to die for, while enjoying the stunning view on the Beach.

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Where I sat for lunch

I took time every morning before we were picked up to go to King’s Beach for a MUCH NEEDED Morning Meditation; to relieve stress and help me relax.  As any person with a Morning Routine knows, if you are consistent with your days and times, you will begin to meet friends that will miss you, when you don’t show.  And I did.  This is one of my Morning Friends I met.  During Spring break, I showed up for Morning Meditation late, because our pick up was later and on the first day he said, “You’re Late!”

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I am definitely going to miss the luxury of walking across the street to engage in Morning Meditation on the Beach.

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Farewell Gathering from Charles Duna Primary School

On October 04, which was our last day, the Faculty and Teachers gathered to present us with a semi-official Charles Duna Farewell.  Due to the school hosting a Memorial on the same day as our last day for Mr. Mpumzi Xolisa Genius, who was Charles Duna’s Math Teacher and passed away during our tenure; so a semi-official Farewell was given to us.

They began the gathering singing and dancing with us.

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Speeches were given by Ms. Sume, the principal

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An administrator

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Ms. Koleka, as a representative for the Teachers in Grade R

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Khosi, a 7th Grader as the representative for the students.

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Ms. Sume presented us with Charles Duna duffle bags as tokens of appreciation.

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Prof (as Dr. Murphy is known in South Africa) gave final words of thanks and appreciation.

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The gathering ended socializing and sharing cake and pop.

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Internship Work at Charles Duna Primary School

Unlike our tour in Cape Town where we viewed the townships from a distance, in Port Elizabeth the township played a pivotal role in providing us the opportunity to experience true urban Africa; we did everything in the township (except live).  A township is a suburb or city of predominantly black occupation, formerly officially designated for black occupation by apartheid legislation.

We were all placed in Primary Schools in the New Brighton township, which is Port Elizabeth’s best known and one of the oldest townships.  During the struggle against apartheid the area was known for its strong politics, and the first cell of the African National Congress’s military wing Umkhonto We Sizwe was formed here.  New Brighton is home to around 40,000 people, who live in a mixture of wooden and corrugated iron shacks, and more substantial government-built housing.

Remember, this is where we went for the Shebeen

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Jaimee and I were placed at Charles Duna Primary School, where Ms. Nombulelo Sume is the principal.

The Main (Office) Building

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The Principal, Ms. Nombulelo Sume

In the mornings we worked with Grade R (Readiness), where Ms. Mandisa and Ms. Koleka were the teachers.

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In their classroom alone, there are 68 enrolled students.

The Girls

The Boys

The Entire Class 

The thing I admired most was that class started everyday with a prayer and a song.  All of the children knew the prayer and the song.

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The most beautiful thing about these children was their eagerness to learn; they were thirsty for knowledge.

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And the children were just darn cute!!

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In the afternoon, we worked with Mr. Mfunda in Grade 7 in their Life Skills classes.  

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They were working on a Heritage Day project, where the 7th graders were divided in four groups that represented four different cultures; English People, India People, San People and Xhosa People.  The purpose of the project was learning about different cultures in relations to their artifacts, clothing, dance, food and housing,  We were assigned to a group as the Project Manager and I was assigned to the San People group.

The Leaders of the San People group

The Artifacts group

The Clothing Group

The Food Group

The Housing Group

The Dance Group

Khosi was my Lead Helper and Interpreter.  I most graciously THANK her for that!

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We held a successful Parent Meeting for the Parents of Grade R.

Parent, Teachers and Students from the Parent Meeting

We held impressive Pre- and Post- Faculty, Grade R Teachers and Interns Meeting.

Post Meeting (Prof; as Dr. Murphy is known in South Africa)

Post Meeting (Paul)

Jaimee and I created and implemented a Pen Pal Program with Ms. Phulma Mgcuwa and the 4th Graders.  

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We matched the 4th Graders with 4th Graders from Martin Luther King Elementary School in Dixmoor, IL (where my Daughter-In-Law, LaToya King-Lawrence is the Counselor) and 4th Graders from Neoga Middle School in Neoga, IL (where Jaimee’s mother, Shari Roy is a Para-Professional),  We were successful in getting 70 students to write letters.  We took each of their pictures to attach to their letters and were able to mail them on Friday; October 04.

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Red Location Museum

After school on Friday, September 13th we were picked up by Xolani Makhalima, who was born in Port Elizabeth, is responsible for driving volunteers to and from their project sites and currently training as a tour guide for Calabas Tours.

Xolani Makhalima

Xolani took us to tour the Red Location Museum, which  is an Apartheid museum in New Brighton township of Port Elizabeth.

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RED LOCATION  is one of the oldest settled Black Townships of Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. It derives its name from a series of corrugated iron barrack buildings, which are rusted a deep red color.  Building materials for these sheds stem from the First South Africa War (1899-1902) structures – the Boer concentration camp at Uitenhage as well as the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at De Aar.   

It became a site of struggle during the years of Apartheid.  Many prominent political and cultural leaders were either born or lived in Red Location and a number of significant “struggle” events occurred here.

For example, the first MK (umKonto we Sizwe – former military wing of the African National Congress) cell in South Africa was established in Red Location and the first arrest after the passive resistance campaign (Defiance Campaign, 1952) against the notorious pass laws occurred at the Railway Station in the area.  Red Location offers the opportunity to draw together the strands of struggle that mark the attempts by different groups in South Africa to free themselves.

It is ironic that the activists of Red Location occupied the same sets of spaces that their so-called enemy, “the Boers,” occupied as spaces of incarceration during the First South African War.

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Exhibitions at the Red Location Museum include the Hall of Columns, dedicated to heroes of the struggle.

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Struggle and Music

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Vuyisile Mini was a unionist, Umkhonto we Sizwe activist, singer and one of the first Africa National Congress members to be executed by apartheid South Africa.

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Our Tour Guide

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Langa Massacre – The incident happened when marchers gathered in Langa, a township on the outskirts of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, preparing to move on to Kwanobuhle, 10 km away, where the commemorative service observing the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre of 21 March 1960.  Unbeknownst to the Langa demonstrators, however, the government had banned the event. Police opened fire on the crowd, killing between 20 and 43 people (sources vary). 094 095 093 102 101 099 096 097 098 112 116

September 06 – 5th Day in Port Elizabeth

Today Charles Duna began the day with an all school assembly.

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During the assembly four students performed their recitals that they had previously performed in a competition.  

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After school they held an Abstinence Rally, along with the Children from the local High School, to take a stand for a safer community with less violence and sexual exploitation and experimentation.

The girls from the High School

The drummers from the High School

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September 02 – First Day in Port Elizabeth

We arrived in Port Elizabeth on the evening of Sunday, September 01.  Beginning today and every day, we will be picked up by Calabash Tours, which is a small company that started as an entrepreneurial dream and became a reality through dedication, vision and commitment. Started in 1997 by local Port Elizabeth couple, Paul and Thandi Miedema, the company has grown from strength to strength.

 

Paul Miedema

We were picked up by Nelson Sebezela who was born and raised in Kwazakhele Township, Port Elizabeth. Nelson is a remarkable young man who has been studying towards his law degree while working with Calabash Tours. From a typical township family, Nelson has been instrumental in developing the tourist experience in the township.

 

Nelson Sebezela

 

First Nelson took us on a tour of Port Elizabeth, which is one of the largest cities in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province and nicknamed “The Friendly City” or “The Windy City.”  Port Elizabeth was founded as a town in 1820 to house British settlers as a way of strengthening the border region between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa. It now forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality which has a population of over 1.3 million.

The effects of the apartheid regime were not lost within Port Elizabeth. Forced relocation of the non-white population under the Group Areas Act began in 1962, causing various townships to be built. The whole of the South End district, being a prime real estate location, was forcibly depopulated and flattened in 1965; relocations continued until 1975.  Since the multiracial elections of 1994, Port Elizabeth has faced the same problems as the rest of South Africa, more especially lack of foreign and government investment, HIV/AIDS and a general increase in crime.

 

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Next, he took us to tour the two primary school for which we all would be doing internships;  W. B. Tshume and Charles Duna Primary Schools.

W. B. Tshume looks run down and is lacking in resources, but the staff appeared to be an incredible team of positive and pro-active individuals with hearts of gold.

Buyile C. Sali – Principal

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Charles Duna Primary School specializes in Ordinary, where a little over 1,000 children go each day to learn.

Nombulelo Sume, Principal

The school’s garden

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Below are pictures of the community in which the children that attend these two schools reside.

The community water pump; where everyone gets their water

Two little girls coming from fetching water at the pump. I kept help but thinking, “Why aren’t these cute little girls in school?”

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Knysna, South Africa

My favorite thing at the Elephant Park; HEAT!!

 

008 017 019 150On our way to Port Elizabeth, we stopped for an overnight stay in Knysna, South Africa, which is a town in the Western Cape Providence and part of the Golden Route.  The town is a popular destination for both tourist and senior citizens entering retirement due to the year-round warm climate.  Recently the town has also become a preferred destination among golfers, as the town boasts several world class golf courses including Pezula Golf Course, Simola Golf Course and the well-established Knysna Golf Course situated on the lagoon.  Knysna’s other claim to fame is its proximity to the fabled relict elephant population that survives in the region.  And boy did we see the elephants, when we visited the Knysna Elephant Park!  First we had lunch and then we went to feed the elephants!

 

Watching the video before we go out to feed the elephants

Accommodations for those that want to spend the night with the elephants

Oh YES, he did!

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Cape Town Reflection

Our time in Cape Town has come to an end; so I will take a moment to reflect on it.

There was one thing I did miss more than my sister, son, daughter-in-law, grandbaby and family of friends and that was CENTRAL HEATING!  Everybody that knows me know that I hate being cold and man have I been cold here.  I LOVE Cape Town’s winter weather, but the lack of central heating is something I just cannot get used to.  Their solution to the lack of heating is to put on more clothes and/or sleep with hot water bottles.  I did sleep with more clothes on, but I refuse to buy a hot water bottle.  My paranoia about that was the water bottle would leak in the middle of the night and I would not be able to sleep for sure.  It seemed to be colder inside than it was outside.  Lindsay from Beth Uriel explained to us that it was because most of the buildings were made of cement.  If you noticed on every picture you see of me, I have on my jacket; inside and out.  What you couldn’t see was the other layers of shirts I had on!  Yet, it was never enough.  The lesson I learned as I venture into finding employment in warm climate is to not only research the climate, but research the resources of handling the climate.

Another thing I did not like was riding in the Kombis, which we did not have to do that, much; but when we did, I hated it.  Kombis are a form of public transportation; a combination of a taxi and a city bus.  They ride around picking up people like taxi’s, but they load people in like a bus.  I really did not like the way they packed people in them like sardines; they almost had people sitting on each other’s laps.  When you would think, “Okay, it’s full in here, they would stop and pick up more people!”  All the time, I’m thinking where are they going to seat them and believe me, they would find a spot!  They even had a crate inside for some people to sit on, when they ran out of seats!  And they hustled those Kombis like they hustled drugs.  They rode around looking for people walking and would whistle and yell to see if you wanted to get a ride.  I rather walk than ride in a Kombi.

Now what I could get used to was the laundry service.  We did not have to wash our clothes.  There was a laundry service right around the corner from us and all we had to do was take our dirty laundry bag there for cleaning and drying.  They would weigh your laundry and you pay according to the weight.  The most I paid was 75 Rands, which is $7.50 in American dollars.  The best part of it was they would have it ready for you the same day!  I will admit, they did not get them as clean as I thought they should have been, but the service was surely worth it!

As far as my packing, I can rate as pretty good right now.  Though, we had cleaning ladies that left new bath towels each day, when they came to clean the room, they did not leave wash cloths.  Thanks to my flatmate, Nisha, who brought plenty, I was able to use one of hers until I bought my own.  So far it seems like I did not need to bring any short sleeve or summer/spring clothes at all.  I should have brought all winter clothes, along with hats, gloves and scarfs.  We all resulted in buying those things here; trying to stay warm.  The best thing I brought was my Sigma Gamma Rho afghan, which I use as a blanket.  I walked around with it around me while inside like Linus with his blanket.

What I will take from Cape Town as we move to our next destination is an enhancement of my appreciation for the things I do have.  The first month in South Africa revealed to me that we, in America are TRULY BLESSED!  We have unlimited resources that we are so used to having that we feel we are supposed to have.  I became so frustrated with not being able to have things I wanted or how I wanted them, For example, all of the food portions here are smaller; the fish fillet at McDonalds is so thin, it’s like you are eating a bread sandwich.  They sell pop mainly in the cans rather than the bottles and the cans are not 12 oz. cans.  Subway only gives you four choices of breads to choose from, limited choices of meat and they don’t sell soup.  Everything you see that is like home is different.  They don’t have Diet Coke, they have Light Coke and it’s different.  I found myself about to have a tantrum; like a spoiled little kid.  When I calmed down, my level of appreciation grew for the resources we have in America!  I understand why people here feel like America is like Heaven; because we’ve got it like that!

As our picture shows, here’s to Cape Town!  Now, let’s see what Port Elizabeth has to offer us!!