Monday, July 23, 2007

Cape Town Context

The original purpose of this whole 'blogging' thing is to keep people abreast of my activities in South Africa this summer (winter there), so i figure i ought to begin by explaining why i'm going in the first place.
Here are some pertinent clips from the various literature i've received about the program.

"A Critical Understanding of Community Development

This course will provide students with an experiential, reflective and service-oriented introduction to post-apartheid community development processes in South Africa, using the Western Cape as a case study. The course will combine a series of core seminars with daily community service in Khayelitsha near Cape Town, regular service-learning reflection sessions, and a group task aimed at creating an asset map to be presented to the community of Khayelitsha.

The central aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the ‘potentialities of the city’, building on the notion of community assets, particularly with regards to ‘the community’s’ ability to present competent and complex responses to their own problems. This requires exploring the different avenues for power in Cape Town (local government, failures of local government, a call to understand the ‘micro-spaces of everyday engagement’ and an example of a study which introduces racial, class and social justice issues with regards to housing), as well as the social challenges that communities in Cape Town face and their responses to these challenges."

There are 6 of us American students in the group: me and five girls. Three of us are GW kids which would be worrisome except that they gotta be at least kinda cool if they applied to this program.
We'll be living in University of Cape Town dorms, in a building that houses mostly medical students. They are all single rooms with 4 communal bathrooms on each floor (12 rooms per floor). Apparently there is a computer lab in the dorm, so whether or not i bring my laptop is in question. The dorm also has a swimming pool, racquetball courts and a weight room, a full service cafeteria and big screen TV's in the common rooms. So it's not like i'll be roughin' it.


"Course Structure:

1. Core seminars

10am-12pm daily, Monday to Thursday, for 4 weeks
Instructors: Dr Elsa van Huyssteen and Mr Tristan Gorgens

2. Service-learning component

This component of the course consists of three parts: community service, reflection on the service experience, and developing an asset map of the community.

2a. Community service

2pm-5pm daily, Monday to Thursday

2b. Reflection sessions

10am-2pm every Friday, for 4 weeks
These sessions are aimed at supporting students in the field through reflection on the service experience while at the same time, offering some lenses that might assist in the reflection process and in linking it with the overall themes of the course i.e. to link the service and the learning. While Janice McMillan will provide the overall frame for the sessions, it is hoped that all course lecturers will be involved as this will facilitate the links between the service and academic components of the course.

2c. Group task: Developing asset map of Khayelitsha

This will be done concurrently with community service and reflection sessions and will be presented to the community in the final week. It will also link with the theoretical aspects of the course."

So those are the basics. I really don't know much more about it than all that. I arrive on the 7th of June, and the first week is orientation, then we've got four weeks of learning slash service, then a week of exams and papers and such, then i'm home by way of London on the 18th of July. It's a short, intense trip.

I'm assuming i'll spend weekends exploring Cape Town and the surrounding areas. Orientation involves some sort of trip, but i really don't know...only one way to find out. I certainly hope to find some sweet new music while i'm down there, so i'll be jumping at every opportunity to check out the live groove scene.

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