When planning my year in South Africa, one of my highest priorities was to connect with locals outside of work. While my internship works directly with the local community, I wanted to engage with the local community at a deeper level, outside of my placement. However, I knew this would be difficult since I don’t own a car and would be restricted to public transportation and cabs, I would be living with a community of mostly Americans (which is comfortable and familiar), and I knew no South Africans before I arrived.
Now here I am, six months later and halfway through my stay. I have just moved in with three South Africans and one Columbian, I commute to work on the train from my neighborhood (Observatory), and am fortunate enough to have several South African friends. While it was easy, at first, to spend my time with the other Americans/foreigners, I now feel just as comfortable with my South African friends.
Apart from developing relationships with South African friends, I have also been able to maintain relationships with my former co-workers at TSiBA. My manager at TSiBA, said that his wife was asking about me and wanted to see if I could come stay the weekend with their family. I enthusiastically accepted and went for a weekend stay with the Olivers and their three daughters. When I arrived to their house, they had a women’s group from their church over. They women cackled at my attempts to cut a cucumber quickly, in small pieces. They called the large, lopsided slices “international cuts.” The next morning we went to a service at the Oliver’s church. I ended up sitting beside a male cousin of the Olivers and nearly caused a scandal. It seems as though genders are usually fairly separate and my proximity to a single man my age lead to tons of gossip in Afrikaans (most of which was fairly obvious to understand, much to their disbelief). When the sermon started I was surprised at first. On the way home I told my manager that I didn’t think I realized that he was the preacher even though the women were calling him pastor the day before.
At the SAHRC, I am just getting to know my new colleagues since I have only been interning for the organization for two months. I find that I am starting to get to know them better and feeling comfortable with my work assignments. My manager, also asked me the other day how my new commute was going from Observatory. I told her that I have a renewed love for trains (which initiated from Harry Potter of course). On my way to work that morning I saw a little league of cricket players in uniforms in the station. They were adorable. Apparently, in winter I will also start to see amusing entrepreneurship ventures. When the weather is cold and rainy, vendors will sell bras and underwear to passengers who are completely soaked when umbrellas blow out. Hopefully things will not get too desperate.