Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Soweto homestay.

They dropped us off two by two at our Soweto homestays, not telling us who was going to be dropped off until they pulled up in front of our homes. Because it was our first homestay, they had us go with another CGE person, which definitely put me at ease. Lauren and I were dropped off at a home in the nicer part of Soweto. Our host mother, Sybil has one son named Mpumi, and they were both amazing people! The moment we got there, Mpumi led us inside and immediately began to talk to us about our schools, what we were studying, and all the little details of our life. We reciprocated, and then Sybil came in. She is an extremely interesting woman! She is just about to start school for a Masters degree in HIV/AIDs, so she taught us a lot about its status in South Africa, and its legacy in terms of governmental knowledge or support. The last president, Thabo Mbeki, said that there was no connection between HIV and AIDs. The current president, Jacob Zuma, said that he had sex with an HIV positive woman, and "washed it off." She talked to us about the impact that these words from South Africa's leaders had on the population. There are also some interesting issues of stigma in the clinics in Soweto. People don't want to be caught being tested for fear of being stigmatized and avoided.

We spent a lot of time talking about the subject, and then had an awesome dinner. We ended up staying up really late that night to watch Animal Planet with Mpumi! The next day we got to sleep in, finally, and then we drove around Soweto meeting Sybil's family members and looking for a part for her combi. Nothing else eventful happened that day, but later in the night we watched a movie called Yesterday, about a girl in rural South Africa who gets AIDs from her husband working in Johannesburg.

The next day we got the opportunity to attend a South Africa funeral. I had this idea that the funeral would be vastly different from an American one, but it turned out to be really similar, except for the large amount of singing! We went to the church and listened to a Zulu service for about an hour. Then they lead the coffin out of the church to the cemetery, all the while singing these beautifully sad and celebratory songs, which I couldn't understand, but understood, if you know what I mean. Then, all of the cars (which was a LOT because the deceased was a prominent combi owner), proceeded to the family's house to eat and eat and eaaaat. It was really interesting, but surprisingly similar. We have all these ideas about African traditions are supposed to look at, with sacrifices and animals. The culture, especially in the city, is quite similar though.

Later in the day we were exhausted, so we took naps and then watched a bootleg version of 2012. However, the best part of the day followed, when we went to a braai, which is a barbeque in Southern Africa. We went over to the house of Sybil's friend, who happened to be the host mother of two other CGE students. We had some phenomenal food, but then had a great talk with Moketze, one of our guides for the trip. One of the most interesting things that he told us about was the impact that American students want to have when they get to "Africa." Students come in with lots of ideas about women's rights and the oppressive society that is "Africa," and fail to learn about the culture because they are too busy condemning. For example, women take the dishes of the men from the table when they are done eating. He said that a lot of students refuse to do this, or they talk about how wrong it is that this is part of a woman's role in South Africa. I have these same questions, because on one hand I am really interested in learning about the culture and traditions, but on the other there are some questions about women's roles and men's roles.

That was basically the end of my homestay! We left the next morning, sadly, wishing there was more time in the weekend. I'm hoping to get better at blogging, sooooo this was my second start! Hope it was interesting. I miss everyone in the States!!!!

Love love love,

1 comment:

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