Welcome to our class BLOG. I invite parents, family, and friends to comment and read along while we are away in Cape Town, South Africa. This BLOG is our collective story to share with our loved ones back home - a glimpse into our journey, our new learning, and transformations.
Tracing the footsteps of social change in South Africa is not an easy task. Though the path to revolution and social justice takes cultural, economic, and socio-political strides, our aim in this course is more existential in nature - a journey towards giving meaning to life and for living life passionately and sincerely. The aim is to explore our innermost selves and trace "soft-footprints" of a conscious sort - to seek the wisdom South Africans gained during their long-walk in defeating Apartheid.
The path will include an examination of South Africa's history, collectivist community, lessons on living together, forgiving one-another, and healing. Using the lens of lived-experience, Ubuntu, and Reconciliation, we will attempt to mend ourselves from oppression and bigotry in our own lives - as both perpetrators and targets - in order to become stronger agents of social change.
Cape Town, South Africa is a medley of sheer natural splendor, beautiful weather, and astounding bio-diversity. The plethora of treasures produced by nature is reason enough to connect to a larger world - from Table Mountain dwarfing the city bowl to Great White sharks and baboons. Though the magnificence of the Cape is vast, it is often said that visitors "ignore the view" by overlooking the juxtaposition between poverty-stricken (though vibrant) shantytowns and immensely affluent neighborhoods (built for-and-by the White minority during Apartheid). Mindful visitors will often put into question South Africa's progress towards "non-racialization," "Reconciliation," the legitimacy of a "free market" system (so valued in the USA), and recognize that Apartheid's history of racism and classism still exists in all fabrics of life.
However, Cape Town has a wealth of human diversity that enriches all aspects of the "Rainbow Nation." The people of South Africa, through struggle and wisdom, have helped many to live from the inside out - to achieve a deep sense of happiness and a zeal for life. Their story of overcoming Apartheid is unfinished yet their spirit to endure is essential to our understanding of human possibility. This seminar will engage with both the people and the places of South Africa. Through lectures, site visits, service-learning, and a wilderness retreat, students - via a direct exchange with South Africans - will start to transform their understanding of "community" and the essence of what it means to be human.
There are communities in the United States who have undoubtedly been pushed into marginalization and face injustice daily; and, there are incredible resources here at home to combat these realities. By visiting South Africa, we are not washing our hands of this responsibility at home. I have come to learn that by visiting South Africa, we can gain meaningful new insight into how the United States may have gone astray in our own struggle for equality. By baring witness to the drastically observable challenges South Africa faces in terms of poverty and racial inequity, we begin to see the dilemmas here at home; we become fish of water. In this sense, South Africa for many US citizens can be the mirror in which we look at ourselves. By traveling to Cape Town and learning from and with South Africans, we become citizens of the world and strengthen our capacity to make change at home.