Tuesday, June 2, 2009
“A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”
“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity.
We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."
To wrap things up: I won't be writing on the blog much more, because I will be in transit more than usual. But still checking emails.
If you were wondering, the Comrades winner this year finished in something like 5 hours 23 minutes and 26 seconds.
The exchange rate has dropped tremendously since we arrived in January. It is now under 8 rand to the dollar. We are trying to tell ourselves that we just got lucky in the beginning!
I am excited to go off travelling, and will look forward to catching up with you in July :)
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Two exams down, two to go. It is sad saying goodbye to friends I have made in class. Some people have been at home for the last week or so, and are just returning the days of their exams, so, we say goodbye upon finishing the test. And then there are the friends in the dorms, we still see each other all this week, but, man Friday is coming up fast.
Thursday was a study day. And on Friday I wrote the Virology test, and then gave a presentation. Both of which went alright. It was neat to hear all the other students’ presentations but the whole thing took more than 4 hours and we didn’t break in between anywhere! The presentations were all about our community service and individual research projects. Many people, myself included used powerpoints—but the power outlets didn’t work, so we had to just show off of a laptop, not the same. I was impressed that our professor managed to stay seated in the same chair that whole 4 hours! I was getting antsy.
Saturday we hung out around here then studied at a local coffee place, Bread Ahead, probably go back there today, in fact. The owner is a nice guy, he's always there. They make all the pastries you could ever dream of.
So that leaves me at today, Sunday. Still thinking about saying the goodbyes on Friday. Can’t believe it is so soon.
I am going to be traveling (with two other friends) a little bit after the exams period: to Kruger Park, then to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, then to the Okavango River, where it floods the Kalahari Desert, then to the sand dunes in Namibia, and a couple big cities, like Windhoek. I will fly home from JoBurg on the 2nd of July. If you have suggestions about anything, parks to see or cities to hit, please don’t hesitate to send a note: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday was spent with some friends, just hanging out, studying a bit. Did some music swapping, really exciting to get new South African pop music, actually.
We went to Durban for the day on Friday, did a bit of shopping in the Indian (actually this would describe a large portion of Durban) part of town, Victoria St. Market and Workshop (Photo here of Kerry and Laurin at the Workshop area). In the afternoon, I went the beach with the intention of watching my friend learn to surf, but I ended up thinking, that is sooo easy, I could do that…so, I did try to surf, and man was that tough, frustrating! It was not till I got off the waves that I realized it IS really a cool thing to do. Just you and the natural tide, each wave is different so you never get bored. No boat needed (like waterskiing!!!), no snow needed (snow boarding), all you need is a board and the ocean, peaceful.
Last night We went to The Royal Show, past the main part of down, in the city showgrounds. It was like a county fair, it is going on all this week and last night was like the opening show night, a few opening bands performed then the headliner, Prime Circle came on (they are the hottest band here in South Africa and apparently one of their songs just went International, listen for it J ). Have to say, not my kind of music, punk-rock, but it was a cool experience to see how South Africans celebrate their music. Show aside, the fair grounds were fun, lots of advertising, lots of high school kids, a few rides, a few festive food stands, and during the day the shows range from cattle and horses and dogs to motorbikes jumping cars. After the show, the after party was at the local dance club, Crowded House, and that was jam packed with better music and dancing.
This morning, Sunday the 24th, was the Comrades Marathon, which has been going on for decades, it is a foot race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, each year the direction alternates. This year it began here and ended in Durban. It is something like 55+ miles, more than twice a marathon!! And people actually finish, a whole lot of people in fact. This morning we walked down to town and saw the start, at 5:30AM. My friend Laurin joined in and ran the first 10k and back for fun. It was incredible to watch, 15,000 people went by, which took about 10 minutes, and that was at the start line! On TV we watched as the first runners came in, at 5 hours and 30 minutes or so, the female winners (for the last 6 of 9 years, in fact) were a pair of twins from Russia (32 yrs old). People come from all over this week to enter in this marathon. People do die from running it. Crazy. By the way, a lot of people just take it ‘easy’ and walk a good portion of it, just to say they did it, it takes them more like 11+ hours. It would be cool to say I did it someday. It is a big deal around here, there are many people that have done it for 15+ years, like addicts! But I say good for them. After watching the start this morning I went back to sleep for a while and studied more. Then my friend Mosima and I tried to imitate our favorite curry place’s food, we made our own bunny chow and I gotta say we were so excited--And Mosima loves taking pictures, so we can brag, basically, and well I have included a fair share of the photos...Good as the curry place in town, if not better. It was like a chicken curry stew we made, hot and spicy with veggies in it, then we scooped it into quarter loaves of bread and ate up. Mosima makes a good stew—she’s writing up the recipe for me to take back.
Alright, back to studying for us, there is a building on campus open 24/7, so as it is now past midnight, that is where we are headed to read for a while. And tomorrow, who knows? maybe some more studying?! And get the final results of the Comrades Marathon...how many people made it to the end? How many people made it under 8 hours? Ya, should be interesting news. To be honest, watching it on TV is like as exciting as the Olympics, at least the first few batches of people who are running all out...then the walkers are not as neat to watch, but still incredible to believe these people went so far in one day. Oh, and my friends recently told me that the marathon was started to commemorate the victims of WWII. It has been going on for 80 plus years. It supposedly is the worlds longest and oldest run!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Wednesday. Sunny out, going to a luncheon put on by some Food Management students in my Agric Dept. There is a luncheon or two a month, where the students have to prepare a themed, three course meal for 40-50 people, plan, write menus, purchase, cook, and serve, all for a grade. I am excited to see how it goes, it will be the first one I have attended. The theme is Mexican, I am curious how well they pull it off. Already saw some decorations...
Sunday, May 17, 2009
So, that was all day Sunday. While it was busy, and long lines of patients (really, I would call them more like victims), and just crazy, I was told by the nurses that Friday and Saturday nights are much more hectic. Well, well. I guess next it would be cool to see a private hospital here, there is supposed to be a huge gap in how the two compare.
Saturday I walked into town with my buddies Laurin and Kerry. We checked out a really cool art museum, Tatham Art Gallery. I am going back there before I leave, there was all kinds of mixed media, painting, beading, collage, print making, photos, you name it, nice place. Unfortunately we forgot that shops close early on Saturdays, 2:30pm, so we didn't do much shopping, that's okay, we don't need to buy much, just browse. Downtown was pretty dead after 3, though. We ate at our Curry place and then walked on back. I have included some sweet pictures from downtown, the clock tower, and a statue of Gandhi.
I forgot to mention that Saturday was Open Day, a day when high schools from all around the area bring bus loads of students to UKZN PMB to check it out (i.e. super chaotic on campus, and a hence a good day to go to town). Girls and boys dress up in their school uniforms and look really nice and stroll around the campus and ask questions to all the departments who have set up tents of information. Plus the art students do some demos, and there is free ice cream. Like Cal Day at Berkeley.
So, this is the last few days of classes, we are out on Wednesday, then we have a study week, then exams. It is weird to think that a semester has gone by, seems like it it has been to short to be a semester.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I am really excited for this weekend because I am going to the Edendale Hospital to job shadow a doctor I met at an HIV research center nearby the Ubuntu Children's' Centre. I met Dr. Ndaba (Nelly) a week and a half ago, when some of the girls from the center walked me over to the research center, and I ended up learning all about the research they are doing there, with anti microbicide gel. Really fascinating to hear about. But that same day I met the doctor that works at the clinic there, and she said that she works long shifts at the Edendale Hospital. Edendale is a rural, township I guess you could call it, just outside of Pietermaritzburg, the same area the Ubuntu Center is in.
So I have been keeping up with Dr. Ndaba, and she said that I could take my pick, she would be working the 24hr shift on Friday, then again on Sunday, sooo...Sunday I am planning to go out there. I have a taste of what it will be like, cause today was my second time visiting the place, I was supposed to ask permission from the head of surgery, but after waiting and waiting, 2 hours later I couldn't wait any longer and left a note with my info, hope that is okay.
The place is a completely different type of hospital than I have seen before. As I described it to my folks the first time I saw it, it is cross between a train station and a prison. Plus a lot of people (like thousands I am sure, and all those that are waiting outside), I don't know how nurses (a ton) and doctors (3 at a given time) that work there see it, but I hope to find out. It is a public hospital. That is a crucial point. Here, private (for patients with medical aid... NOT the vast majority of people here) hospitals and public (for all others) hospitals mean the difference between life and death, respectfully.