Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Best Class Ever!

I just got out of the best class ever! Today our core class was held on UCT’s campus and we learned about crime. It was really great because actually we learned about a lot more topics dealing with crime like how to act towards strangers and stuff. I know it sounds strange but I honestly don’t know what to do if a guy says to me “hey sweetie” usually I just keep walking but I wasn’t sure if that’s rude or something. But apparently that’s ok because the guy obviously are looking for something when they do that.

But back to crime, the South African prison system makes ours look like heaven. There is a huge overcrowding problem and there are little if any rehabilitation programs. Strangely, I learned that if you’re a white guy it’s safer for you if you say you’re homosexual because then you get your own room. This is because the majority of the prisoners are black (go figure, it’s the same no matter what country you’re in). And it was just great because Hailey our speaker pretty much just asked us questions like what our perceptions were of South Africa before coming here, how we felt about it, etc. It was just really cool, not just listening to a lecturer but hearing everyone’s input. I forgot how much I liked it.

For example, she asked all the black students how we felt about being the majority or just in general our experience here. Someone talked about how it was weird being black here because people will come up to you all the time and start talking in Xhosa and then when you talk they realize that you’re American and the divide that sometimes happens because of it. I remember Bianca also talked about people not believing she was black but thought instead that she was coloured, etc.

One of the most memorable thing was Toni talking about getting to know people instead of just walking by people acknowledge their presence and at least say hi. He mentioned some girl he knew that worked on the minibus which was hilarious to me because she apparently was a little white girl and the thought of her shouting out the minibus is just hilarious. Perhaps I should explain further. Minibus travel up and down Main Road and they all have someone shouting out the bus telling you where they’re going. It involves very loud yelling and whistling. They constantly are yelling at you even if you clearly don’t want to get on.

What else? Jane mentioned a case where some guy stole R1000 and had to wait six years for his trail and when he was finally sentenced he got five years. Five years after already serving six. Insanity! The whole prison system really is a brilliant scheme to keep the people down because once you’re in prison, you have that label forever and there aren’t the programs in America where certain companies will hire you, you’re basically on your own, so what else can you do but go back to crime?

We also talked about xenophobia and how really it’s more against black people because you don’t find South Africans hating Americans. On the contrary, South Africans love Americans. In addition, it’s never hatred towards white European but the black Africans who come and take jobs. So Melangini asked if it might just be a hatred towards the lower class instead of just foreigners. I don’t know I just found it interesting the complexity of the issue.

So I know that was vague and probably uninteresting but basically all you need to know is that my class was awesome and I really enjoyed listening to everyone talk and even put in my own input. The rest of the day was fine. I only had one class because my others were cancelled but then of course the one class was supposed to have lasted all of five minutes. What a waste of time. Oh well, at least I attempted to be a good student because I was thinking about not going in the first place. But I got some readings I needed plus went for a dip which of course put me in the best mood so I guess it was worth.

Now to yesterday, Tuesday. It was a good day. I only had one class. Unfortunately I was my early class but it was only one class all the same. Then I just went home and chilled. I went outside for a while and just soaked in some rays because the weather was so nice. Then off to primary school, I helped this grade one kid read and it was so sad. He actually reminded me of me when I was little and struggled to read. For the life of me, I couldn’t get him to get the word “want.” He could pronounce all the individual letters and even get “wa” and “nt” but he couldn’t seem to put them together and it just broke my heart when he started crying because of it. I felt so bad because I had been there before and know what it’s like but for whatever reason I couldn’t get him to get it. So we moved on for a while and he was fine. I really don’t understand how they learn to read because he could get words like “helicopter” but not “want.” He kept on telling me it was “went” and was so frustrated by me repeating say no it’s not “went” but still not telling him. Also he couldn’t get the word “no.” He told me it was “on.” I was able to get him to guess it my asking him about the what the book said before it but still he couldn’t sound that one out either. It also really frustrated me when the other kids tell him the words because that’s obviously not how you learn. You have to learn how to do it yourself. One of the teachers was explaining to me how he was almost a year younger than the other kids which made sense because he is so much smaller so that’s why he struggles so much. It just made me feel even worse for him. I was proud of him though. I know he tried his best and I can understand his frustration with it.

After helping this student read, I went outside and watched some of the kids play. I have no idea what they were playing. It involved a soccer ball but it wasn’t soccer. It sort of reminded me of dodge ball and kickball. But anyways, I recognized one of the kids in grade two that I’ve helped twice on Fridays. His name is Ramses and his English isn’t very good. I think he’s just learning and his first language is French. So he was watching them play and starting cautiously moving in to play too. It was so cute then Mama Ester one of the teachers, points at him and says “I’m going to talk to your parents.” Ramses looks up completely bewildered and slowly sits back down with the saddest face on. Then Liam (I think I love him even move for this) comes up to Mama Ester and says “he doesn’t understand English.” Of course, Mama Ester doesn’t care because he’s not a part of the aftercare program i.e. his parents are taking advantage of the fact that the teachers are there but they’re not paying for the service which is understandable but Ramses has no control over that. I understand the point but it was still really sad seeing him sulk back into his corner which is why I loved the fact that Liam went over to him and starting pulling on his jacket, telling him to come play, which he did. That pretty much made my day. I love Liam for that. it was so sweet.

The day before Monday was also pretty chill. I didn’t do much. Went to class, came back and actually the girls and I walked to Cavendish which is a mall in Claremont. It’s a good little walk but the weather was nice so we decided to walk. My foot has been bothering me since Sunday so I wasn’t exactly a fan but it wasn’t too bad. I survived. There I got a sleeping bag and something for my boyfriend which I know he’s going to love but I won’t say what because I know he’ll be reading this (so ha!). But yeah, that’s been my week thus far. I’ll probably write again on Saturday just to post something right before my safari which Adam and I leave for early Sunday morning. I can’t believe it’s so soon! Hope all is well back home. Peace

No comments:

Post a Comment