Monthly Archives: April 2014

Frontier Farm Weekend (11-13 April)

Frontier Farm 028Come, let’s go!

I’m not sure how many time I heard that from Manus this weekend, but whenever he said it, I smiled.  Because I knew we were about to have another little adventure.  I had an idea of what we were going to do because of this awesome video Chris, from NMMU’s International Office made. However, I didn’t have an itinerary for the weekend even though there was a rumor of one among our travel group.

We were picked up at our accommodation around 10 on Friday. We were on time but the combis were not. But as we know by now, Africa is flixible. *smiles* We got everyone loaded into the two vans and headed to the third student accommodations to pick-up the last students for our trip. Evidently, they had already been there once to attempt getting the students but no one had answered the door. However, when we pulled up this time they were waiting outside for us. With the last students onboard we got on the highway. I was looking forward to our first stop at Nanaga Farm Stall, where we had lunch when we did our elephant ride. I knew that we had some yummy treats waiting for us there! I got an egg and cheese sandwich on an oven bun. It was amazing! I also got some chips (crisps) for later and drinks. I don’t know what it is but I’m always thirsty here. After our stop we still had 2/3 of our drive left before we arrived at the farm.

Our next stop was a gas station and we were told that we only had 45 minutes left on our trip. What was left out was that it was 45 minutes down a dirt/gravel road. One aspect of my study abroad experience here is that I always feel like we are dealing with a lack of information when we are on a school sponsored event. Back home we always have a lot of information but here it is never enough. One other quick point about road trips here…it is always difficult to know how long we have been in the car. I feel like a child again. Since all of the markers are metric and the cars or vans are in kpm it can be difficult to determine how long we’ve been on the road or how much longer we have to go. Couple those with the wide open spaces and all of these trips are new areas we are traveling…well, it always feels like we are driving much longer distances than time has actually passed.

The timing for the trip was perfect because at about 1/2 way through our semester everyone enjoyed being in an actual home again. The couple me and the other SCSU girls stayed with welcomed us with open arms! We had a fire on their back porch the first night we were there with beer and wine. They got us warm from the inside out! Then the next two days were a couple of the best I’ve had since being here in South Africa. We hiked, fed baby kudu who had been orphaned because of hunters, saw goats that were less than 48 hours old, had an impromptu dance party, and we ate! Oh, the food was beyond amazing! And my stomach did not get a chance to even growl the whole weekend.

Dance Party!

Dance Party!

Still being bottle fed

Still being bottle fed

He enjoyed showing off for us

He enjoyed showing off for us

Sheep being sheared with scissors, which is better for the wool.

Sheep being sheared with scissors, which is better for the wool.

Then on Sunday we all swam into the jail. The water was SO cold that if I was pregnant my child would be getting ice cream, not milk! The formation is called the jail because there is only one way in and that is through the “Front Door.” I’m sure it is a great place to cool off in the mid-December heat but at the beginning of Autumn, when no sun warms the water-it was c-o-l-d! Like everything else I’ve done since landing in South Africa, I was glad I did it! The formation has been created by water eroding the rocks of the mountain until it cut through. Now, there is a waterfall and this brilliant single formation. As SCSU students this trip is included as part of our program fee and I’m thankful it was.

Fried egg, cheese, and bacon breakfast sandwiches

Fried egg, cheese, and bacon breakfast sandwiches

Steak dinner! Yum!

Steak dinner! Yum!


A semester isn’t long enough!

Yes, I have come to peace with the fact that I am going to miss something from my well-crafted South African Bucket List. But I feel like I’m just now hitting my stride with my internship and I’ve reached the half-way tipping point of my trip. However, just now I’m feeling like I have built a rapport with my colleagues, know how to work with the students in this academic environment, and feel my skill level being raised by my experience.  Students in classes have a built-in structure to their experience (syllabus and timetable). But having a new internship position I have been learning along with my supervisors how I can be the most productive.  While I was in my first semester in the Write Place at SCSU I had ENGL 654 where I learned the pedagogy of US writing center’s and The WP specifically through our conversations.  Along with my internship here in South Africa, I have been doing a LOT of reading!  I ordered an ebook version of Changing Spaces, which is about the unique roll of writing centers in South Africa’s university system.  At the same time I am also trying to understand the distinct educational system in South Africa with the mix of students within the system.  I feel like my time here is a long snapshot because 6 months is not a very long time but it is longer than the Spring Break experience I had in 2013.

Why aren't you petting me?

Why aren’t you petting me?

How to Talk About Study Abroad in a Job Interview

Ok, so you have had an amazing study abroad experience but now what? These are good tips on how to best capitalize on your semester abroad and incorporate your unique experience into your job search resource package. Study abroad often gets relayed back home to friends and family as a long trip. But as students who are eventually entering the job market (like it or not) we need to think of our time abroad also through the lens of our future interviewers.

The colonization counterfactual

Rachel Strohm

One of the questions I’m often asked by friends who haven’t studied African history is what might have happened to the continent if it hadn’t been colonized.  It’s interesting to look at the following map of African politico-tribal units circa 1844 by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon in the light of this question:

Alkebu-lan[click for full size – it’s worth it!]

I haven’t been able to find any firm documentation on the origin of the name Alkebu-lan, although a variety of questionably sourced websites suggest that it’s an Arabic phrase meaning “land of the blacks” – supposedly an original name for Africa.  Cyon notes in a presentation that the map represents the culmination of an alternate history where the Black Plague killed significantly more Europeans than was actually the case, presumably reducing the amount of early colonization which would have occurred.  Thus, while many of these territorial groupings appear feasible to…

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Headed to the farm

This is a preview of my weekend!  We’re headed up to the farm on Friday and will be back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday evening.  I’m excited to bond with my fellow study abroad students on the farm with no access to wifi!

Guest post: The uniqueness of South African food

A Hungry African

Saffa Tradingis an online food shop that specialises in exporting authentic South African Food like Biltong, Boerewors, Groceries, Drinks, and SA Wines. They also stock various other unique South African essentials like SA Pharmaceuticals, weight loss products and even Springbok Memorabilia. All items can be shipped via trusted delivery companies such as DHL, Post Office Airmail and EMS. If you love South African produced food but can’t get it where you stay, this is the site for you!

Saffa Trading will be posting guest posts to “A Hungry African” regularly to get your taste buds going and maybe inspire you to try some South African dishes or order some South African delicacies. The first post is on the uniqueness of South African food, which dishes on the list have you tasted?

South African food is world-renowned amongst foodies, and our top-class restaurants and eateries delight the taste buds of countless tourists…

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What am I doing here? (Updated)

This was a question I asked myself many times over during my master’s program. I became an English major after discovering the field of rhetoric. Through rhetoric I was finally given the tools I needed to discuss and interpret the world around me. Some of the language came to me through my background in political science and public policy analysis, which is what I majored in for my bachelors. In many regards though I had always been searching for rhetorical analysis and the vocabulary held within the disapline. Beyond finding myself in the field of rhetoric, it has been more of a journey allowing myself to recognize that I have a desire to teach.

Nontraditional student? Yes, I’m coming to my master’s program after a career as a manager with for-profit and non-profit organizations. I thoroughly enjoyed being in management, especially turning around a failing store or organization and getting it on track to fulfill its goals. The toughest and most rewarding part of the job was working with employees. Developing talent, encouraging people to meet their potential, and sometimes, even seeing amazing employees leave because they were able to move onto bigger and better opportunities. However, American companies have moved away from truly letting employees be developed through on the job training and have moved to hiring people for positions below their skill level and then promoting “from within.”

As a manager, I really enjoyed going through the hiring process. Its just down right fun to call someone up and offer them a job! However, my heart would break for some people as I read their resumes and job applications because I knew that their lack of skill with resumes and cover letters was holding them back. I fought back the urge to call them and suggest changes to their resume content, style, and format. So, when I encountered rhetoric and composition studies, I found a way to be able to empower people by helping them gain a necessary knowledge base. I’m passionate when I help give the writing center tours about writing as a skill students will need no matter their chosen career or field of study. I think writing well is even more important now because individuals produce more writing now than in previous eras. For example, businessmen used to dictate letters but now write their own emails to communicate with clients.

That’s only the first portion of my answer…what am I doing here? I wasn’t supposed to be here, this far along in higher education. My first class in the SCSU English Department we were asked to give our literacy narrative orally, to the class. Honestly, I think I made something up because I don’t remember learning to read. I know I learned how before I went to school and it just seemed like a given. But this assignment made me think about my formative educational years for the first time in years. Actually, part of my personal discovery during my master’s program was revisiting these old ghosts. From 1st through 7th grade I went to a very small private school that had multiple grades in the same rooms. Grades 1-4 were taught in the same room and another teacher was across the hall with grades 5-8. I was precocious and loved learning but my foundational years did not endear me to any teachers. Early in first grade my teacher put my desk in the bathroom with the door closed. This was not a large bathroom but rather a small bathroom off the classroom with just a toilet and a sink. It was dark because I was so small and the light was only on the ceiling. By 3rd and 4th grade we had a new teacher and instead of my desk being in the bathroom she created a patrician blocking me off from the rest of the class. Essentially, she just gave me my assignments and I was supposed to just do them. I was cut off from class discussion or interaction with my peers.

However, nothing compared to 5th grade, it was a special kind of hell. Our firth grade teacher was both physically and verbally abusive. I was getting older by this point and tried to not only stand-up for myself but my classmates as well. The teacher would lash out, I would say something, and he would respond by locking me in a closet where the sports equipment was kept. Or he would send me out in the hall and leave me there, for hours. There was more than once when he laid hands on me, once pushing me down and I hit my head on the metal chalktray. There was one occasion when I asked him to explain some instructions over again because I didn’t understand what he wanted us to do on the assignment. Instead of repeating himself, he made me write a confession stating that I had not paid attention in class complete with my signature and date. As I stood next to his desk, which was in front of the classroom. he told me that I would never be anything.

I did not expect to confront these demons as I read rhetorical theory, but they came up. Haunting me as normal graduate school doubt was over taken by my former elementary school teacher again whispering into my psyche. So, what’s the answer…why am I here? Its never that simple, is it? It is not simple because or in-spite of any one person or event. Rather these are all parts of me and so it should not be a surprise that I latch onto Ferreira and embrace his pedagogical philosophy. I do reflect on my actions because I do not want to devalue a student or make them in any way feel marginalized. I am here because after much struggle this is where I fought to be.

Happy (Birthday to me!) Cape Town

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