Sunday, February 21, 2010

peninsula tour and rugby game

Friday I went to Bonnytoun and met the educational director, Mr. Williams, as well as a few other staff members and teachers. Mr. Williams was enthusiastic about having us work at Bonnytoun, and everyone was welcoming. He is interested in us (me and the two other service-learners that will be working with YIP) teaching small groups of boys in almost special-topics type of classes, on whatever subject we choose. The boys already have classes that go over basic literacy and numeracy, though the effectiveness of these classes seems questionable… but Mr. Williams wants us to provide another dimension to their education, to spark interest and help the boys have more well-rounded knowledge. As of now, the plan is that I will do this three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:30 to 1:00. On Thursdays I would stay on and help with the literacy program from 2:00 to 4:00. For the other days and times, I will either be doing research/planning work for a new literacy program, or helping out with other programs that YIP has at Bonnytoun. But of course, plans change all the time, and who knows how I’ll end up spending my time! I am going back to Bonnytoun tomorrow at 10:30 to observe a few of the classrooms, just to get a feel for how they are set-up, run, and how the boys respond to the teachers.

Yesterday we went on a peninsula tour with our driver Mark and tour guide Thabo. Early on, we drove by Pollsmoor Prison, where I was originally hoping to work. Thabo described it as essentially the most terrible place in the world, at least in the men’s sector of the prison. He told us that three main gangs prevail in the prison: the 26s the 27s and the 28s. The 26s just want money, and their activities revolve around attaining money. The 27s want money, but are also more bloodthirsty, so they kill a lot of people. The 28s are homosexuals, and according to Thabo they pick “girlfriends” from new male inmates who they give special treatment (clothing, food, etc.)… provided that the “girlfriend” engages in sexual activity with the 28 member. I would be curious to learn how South African prisons differ from United States prisons.

After driving by Pollsmoor Prison, we stopped at Simon’s Town, which is famous for its population of African Penguins. We walked around and watched the penguins for a while. They were smaller than I expected, and humorous to watch. They didn’t move around much… most of the penguins were just standing or lying down, not a lot of motion. I was excited to finally see the penguins!

View from Simon's Town... one of the first pictures that has (without any color/photo editing!) almost accurately represented the vividness of the scenery.

From Simon’s Town, we drove out to the lighthouse at the Cape of Good Hope. On the way, we saw a group of baboons on the side of the road. We stopped to watch them for a while. One was munching on a cucumber, and it’s funny how human-like the baboon looked while he was eating! Apparently the baboons are very aggressive, and I saw signs all over the places warning people to keep a distance and to NOT feed the baboons. At the Cape of Good Hope, we stopped to take in the spectacular view, and then walked to the top of a peak where the lighthouse is perched. From the top, the view was even more stunning. I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

When we returned to the bottom, we pulled out our lunches to have a quick picnic before heading on the road. As we were eating, we saw a baboon with a baby on her back… before we new it, the baboon jumped out of the bushes behind us and swiped a bagged lunch that was less than a foot away from Max’s hand. Once we settled down from the excitement, we were quickly finishing up our lunches, and the baboon made a second attack and jumped out again. I don’t think she managed to snag anything that time, but everyone in my group let out a scream and started running away. I can imagine the baboon laughing to herself at the sight of us scattering.

From there, we went to another point on the Cape of Good Hope, the Southwestern most tip of the African continent. This was a beautiful place to find a spot on the rocks, watch the waves crash, and just sit in peace. We stayed there for a while.

At night, we went to the Stormers vs. Waratahs professional rugby match. The Stormers are Cape Town-based, and the Waratahs are from Australia. Somehow, CIEE hooked us up with front-row tickets, and this just added to the excitement of the game. I’d never seen a professional rugby game before… and that won’t be the last time. To me, knowing very few of the rules, it looked like chaos. There were so many men on the field, and they mostly seem to gravitate to the same area. And when they battle over the ball, it’s pretty brutal. None of those pads like in football, just contact. The clock doesn’t stop, so the game goes by quickly and isn’t as technical as football. It’s a fun game to watch... and the atmosphere was pretty rowdy. Interesting to note that the crowd was very disproportionately white. I wonder if that is more of a socio-economic status thing, or the nature of the sporting event. The Stormers won!

Jonah, Jesse, me, Tina, and Aly in front of the field, enjoying our front-row seats

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