Earlier this week, I shared my reflections on my first month in South Africa. Given my sleepless night, I had adequate time to think as I tossed and turned on my tiny twin bed. Since the unrecognizable echoes of African languages in the hallways continued into the late hours of the night, my thoughts shifted to my goals for month two.
Later this week, I will be engaging with community members in the nearby area of Belhar. On Wednesday, the Office of Leadership and Social Responsibility (LSR) is facilitating a program for children, and on Friday, our attention will focus on the elderly. In the next month, I want to have more meaningful interactions with community members. For the past six months, I have been exploring community engagement and service-learning in the context of South Africa by reading books, articles, and government documents, conducting interviews, and writing papers. If I am going to develop a genuine understanding of my own research, I must place myself in the field. I will have more opportunities for community engagement in mid-July as part of Mandela Week. I must ensure that I am informed about my work beforehand, serve responsibly, and reflect on my experiences afterwards.
I also want to invest time in fostering even stronger relationships with my colleagues. The LSR family is comprised of four full-time staff members: Tonia, Monique, Sashley, and Arnold. Beyond collaborating with the team on work projects, I desire to get to know them on a deeper level. I must also begin thinking of ways to express my gratitude to the LSR family. I have a fierce appreciation for their consistent acts of kindness: including me in work-related matters, on campus support, rides to the airport to fetch my rental car, dinner parties, wine tasting adventures, and braais (barbecues).
I have more of this stunning country to explore, as well. To this point, I have not told many tales of my travels (road tripping to Port Elizabeth and Addo Elephant National Park, hiking Table Mountain, touring the Cape Winelands, and visiting the Cape of Good Hope – Table Mountain National Park). In the near future, I do not plan on venturing far from Cape Town. Instead, I would like to visit nearby Stellenbosch, continue tasting wine, try to understand rugby, hike Lion’s Head, and experience more of Cape Town. The higher education professional in me also wants to tour the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, since both are in close proximity to the University of the Western Cape.
Lastly, on the academic side of my life, I need to strike a balance between being focused and taking a mental break. On the one hand, I need to author a 20-page paper that concentrates on educational and social reforms in post-apartheid South Africa for my directed reading. I also need to complete work, including future blog posts, for my practicum experience. On the other hand, my time in South Africa is less academically intense than fall and spring semesters in Bowling Green. I would like to enter the fall semester feeling fresh and rejuvenated.