Preparing for Cape Town
Hi, my name is Freesia Towle, and I'm a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Words cannot describe how excited I am to be apart of this trip to Cape Town, South Africa. Initially, I had heard about this trip through one of my friends, Kirsten (Kiki) Benish who had gone last year. Over the past year, we've found in common that we've both gravitated towards subjects within global studies and social justice. Through out the year she continously recommended this trip to me and told me the experiences I'd learn were not comparable to any lesson learned within a classroom. Her inspirational experience with this trip kept me thinking about applying for it. Finally one day I did. When I finally received the news that I had been acepted for the trip, I became incredibly excited. Before the trip, I had little idea of what had happened in South Africa, other than the historical Apartheid law. I had no idea what the racial make up was, other crucial aspects of South African history, or the contemporary social situations that exist today. Even during the time that we've prepared for the trip, I feel I've grasped more of an understanding of the cultural history within South Africa, but I still have much more to learn. One thing I am tremendously excited about is being exposed to completely different lifestyles and cultures within another town, another country. I thought reading Kevin Winge's book was important, because it emphasized Winge's continual feelings of of class divisions, certain privileges he possessed as a White male American and also a lesson he learned about "how to come in right". He talks about "coming in right" as a way to respectfully enter a new place, culture or situation that you have never been a part of before. He emphasizes that it's important to listen more often than speaking aloud in certain situations, and also leaving behind a structured, judgemental viewpoint that prohibits you from learning. On this trip, I plan to do my best to take Winge's advice to "come in right", because I agree with him that it's a very important aspect of traveling abroad and learning in a new environment with completely different lifestyles and cultural patterns. I've traveled to Costa Rica before with my High School, but it was very limiting in terms of understanding different culture and social classes because we were primarily learning within in the wealthier areas within Costa Rica. Personally, I feel that learning about reasons behind social disparities and social divisions is crucial because it's an issue that occurs within so many parts of the world. Even within the city of Minneapolis, there are extreme levels of poverty and wealth. I believe this trip will enhance knowledge I've developed before this trip, and also transform many of my personal values. I feel that situations we'll encounter, discuss and experience in South Africa will teach us lessons that cannot be learned in any other way. I'm looking forward to using this experience in South Africa to apply to other situations in life regarding certain social divisions, disparities or new cultural situations. I look forward to building strong relationships with the group members on this trip; this is a unique experience that we will be exposed to together which will quickly strenghen our friendships.