Monthly Archives: May 2014

First ride in an illegal taxi

Today was a nice relaxing day. I slept in until 8:30 and got up slowly. Did a few pieces of laundry (at home it would’ve been a couple of loads not because I have that much laundry here but at home I can procrastinate), had coffee (one of my Woolworth’s purchases), and did a little writing. When I finally did get out of the hotel, I went to the gym for a couple of hours. Instead of taking a combi straight back to the hotel I walked down to the flea market. I’m glad I waited to buy souvenir from the flea market instead of buying them when I first got here. When we first got here there were still lots of tourists and so the starting price was much higher then as compared to now. I was specifically looking for a South Africa purse in George Mason’s school colors. And today I finally found it! I wanted a green bag with South Africa written in yellow. Perfect for fall semester!
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When I got to the end of the market I decided to take a break and have lunch at Nando’s while I was at that end. Can I just say, that I’m really excited there is a Nando’s Chicken in D.C.! I’ll be able to get peri-peri sauce! It was a nice, light lunch, and delicious as always.

Nando's features South African artists on their menus

Nando’s features South African artists on their menus

I went back to the market for a couple of small items I’d scoped out earlier. Then caught a combi back to the hotel. I am about 95% sure that this was an illegal taxi. I found out on Friday from Shane, one of the drivers I know, that they are assigned their route on their taxi license. So, if a driver is on the route he is assigned he knows that route. If someone needs to go off the main route the drivers will take them and if they are slow for fares on a particular day or time they’ll go off the main roads to see if anyone needs a ride. Our student accommodations are within a working hotel and so it is not only students who take the combis to the hotel but also the hotel workers. All of the drivers who are supposed to be on this route know where to go when you say “Summer Inn.” I used to say “Summerstrand Hotel” but “Summer Inn” is what the workers call it and all of the drivers know this place. However, my driver today did not know “Summer Inn.” His helper also didn’t know what I was talking about and of course they didn’t turn down their music to hear me more clearly *smiles* The helper just said, “You can show us.” The process was made less complicated because the passenger in the front seat knew what I was talking about and was able to give the driver directions in Xhosa.


It tastes like ‘Merica

Today, I did a rare thing. I spent most all day at a mall. Honestly, I do not think that I have ever done this before. When I lived in Greensboro and Jennifer would want me to go shopping with her I’d end up ditching her and her mom in favor of Barnes and Noble. As a backup plan I had a copy of my thesis with me this afternoon to work on edits for that moment I was sure would come and I’d duck out of this shopping activity. But it never came. We had a totally chill day at the Walmer Park Mall. I picked up a few necessities and found a blouse on sale that was a want not a need. We had a great lunch, I had an ostrich wrap (as you can see below).

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Then we stopped in the Brittish treat shop that specializes in sweets, teas, and cake mixes from the U.K. I hadn’t realized the other times I had been in this shop that they also carry a couple of items from the United States. So, I got a Dr. Pepper (better than in the US ’cause its made with cane sugar and not corn syrup) and a package of Reese’s Cups. I was pretty excited after this little purchase and opened them in the bookstore we went to next. As I took the first bite I said, “That tastes like ‘merica.” Before I ate all 3 of the Reese’s cups, I was back in the store buying two more packages of them. I was holding the last bite in my hand as I brought the other two up to the cashier and had a huge guilty smile on my face. The cashier was awesome and said, “No judgement here!” I now have the Dr. Pepper in my fridge and the Reese’s cups are getting even more chill in my freezer!

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Cubata, where even Germans eat with their hands

Cubata Portuguese Grill was definitely an experience for the senses!  A big group of us went there last night and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. `One of the girls who got there first and was familiar with the restaurant ordered for the whole group. The owner asks only how many people are in your group and what meat you want and then he takes it from there.
This is a picture of me with the owner.

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Here is a few pictures of our food. The consensus at my end of the table was that these were the best chips (fries) we’d had since landing in South Africa.

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It was quite a feast!

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Yes, photographic evidence of two of the Germans eating with their hands! We’ve been a good influence on them 😉

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Very happy and full group of people!

Oh, but we did have a little room left for ice-cream.

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Africa’s True Size


Feedback is a gift

feedbagIs it?

I can still see the poster neatly hung on the wall of my manager’s cubicle at American Express.  It was in full color and showed a single daisy in a terracotta pot.  However, my understanding of feedback has stayed rooted in corporate America’s space.  In my mind thinking of feedback as a gift always felt as genuine as those uber motivational posters every business major had in their dorm rooms in the 1990s. Feedback in work never felt like a gift but rather it always felt judgmental and punitive.  Feedback was given with performance reviews where you were told if you were going to get a raise or explained why you were not receiving one.  Feedback in school is generally tied to a grade and also feels punitive.  The feedback is an explanation of what you did wrong.  I’ll also say that receiving feedback in school had its own problematic roots that I’ve already delved into a bit. So, neither experience (work or school) had positive roots for me when it came to receiving feedback as a gift.  Until recently.  Over the past five semesters I have worked in a writing center, four semesters at SCSU’s The Write Place and one semester here at NMMU’s Writing Centre.  Through my immersion in the writing center culture, pedagogy, and practices I realized that feedback can be a gift.  I asked two of the people I’m working with this semester at NMMU to read through my thesis chapters and give me feedback on what I had written.  When they returned them to me with detailed comments I felt like I had been given a gift.  I read through the comments carefully taking in what they had to say.  They were deliberative and inquisitive and I processed each one individually.  I have now been both a manager and a consultant in the writing center where I gave feedback to employees and students.  I hope that as I move into the classroom I can help my students understand how to receive feedback but more importantly, I hope I can model a healthy manor to give feedback as an instructor.

 


What To Expect With Culture Shock: The Good, The Bad, and The (Sometimes) Ugly

This post and video really struck a cord with me. I think something each student needs to keep in mind that adjustment is not a linear progression but can be circular and that’s ok 🙂 Sometimes there are big moments back home and you miss out because you’re abroad. You’ll deal with those moments differently than if you’re missing your dog or that amazing pizza place that has mac and cheese pizza (Yes, its real and amazing!) Give yourself grace to deal with these struggles but also keep in mind that locals may also experience culture shock. You may be in university in a urban area and they are from a remote rural village and now they are adjusting to university life. Talk about it and never struggle alone.

eighty-two ninety-seven

Amid the stress of preparing to depart for a long stay in an unfamiliar country, it’s easy to get caught up in a host of trivial, packing-related questions like, “Which shade of denim is more versatile?” Meanwhile, you overlook the importance of mentally preparing yourself for the upcoming transition. The adjustment process, and in particular that associated with “culture shock”, is often the most overwhelming experience associated with life abroad, and, ironically, the one that people are often least prepared for.

Knowing what emotions to expect, and even when to expect them, can help you tremendously in your attempts to at least reasonably assimilate into the new, unfamiliar culture. For many, the first few months are comparable to the cliché rollercoaster analogy – full of high highs and low lows. It’s tricky. We all relish the high highs, but some of those low lows come creeping out of nowhere and…

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Pay to Play

This is why I won’t go to Seaview Predator Park in Port Elizabeth. I’m trying to have an ethical and responsible visit to South Africa and these types of exploitation are deeply troubling.

Fight for Rhinos

There are two sides to every story, and two sides to the lives of animals in the tourism industry. Many of the baby animals we find so irresistibly adorable and pettable, live a life or torment.

petting lion cub 2 This is the canned hunting industry.

The opportunity to pet, hold, bottle feed, and play with cute orphan lion cubs sounds irresistible to animal lovers.

Captive lion cub 2 Farmed cubs often show signs of stress like hair falling out and diarrhea.

Well-meaning visitors pay big bucks for the privilege of “helping rear motherless cubs.”  Many of these people are led to believe they are playing a part in conservation efforts, that these little tykes will live to be returned to the savanna one day.

But the reality is much darker. Shortly after birth, the babies are taken from their mothers, causing extreme stress to the cubs and the mother alike. This is done to facilitate immediate breeding again for…

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For Mother’s Day: A Rural Story of a Mother’s Love

I thought about sharing a reflection about my own mother and grandmother today but came across this blog posting about a rural mother and her ill son.  So, I decided to share this moving story which is more representative of South Africa and the struggles parents face who live in these deeply remote communities.

Barefoot Whispers

I have amazing women in my life – a wonderful mother, grandmother and aunts. I have written about them before, so this Mother’s Day I am sharing a story I have told them, and I know they won’t mind it as a tribute to all mothers.

My rural Family Medicine rotation earlier this year was not just rural – it was classified as DEEP rural. The majority of the people living in the area had no water or electricity. Many of them had pulmonary disease, despite never having smoked – the so-called hut-lung disease. The nearest referral hospital was more than two hours away and was reached by traveling roads with near-dongas as potholes.

Most of our patients were unemployed, or otherwise self-employed as subsistence farmers who struggled to subsist. Almost none of them had cars, and so when we did refer them to the “nearby” hospital they were…

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Carpe Diem, it’s not what you think

Last week, in a writing center workshop my supervisor told us about reading Harry Eyres’s book Horace and Me: Lessons from an ancient poet. Eyres retranslates Horace’s famous line “carpe diem” from seize the day (which is how most of us know it if from nothing else, we know it from dead Poets Society)to “taste the day.” The new translation has been rolling around in my head for a week or so now and it fits my time here perfectly. Seizing the day seems like such an aggressive translation while tasting and it’s synonym savor are enjoyable actions. Actions of appreciation and delight. Appreciating each day as a gift can get overplayed in our daily grind of life. But removing the grind and taking time to truly taste the day is also an active role in the appreciation. Appreciation can feel passive because it is a mental and spiritual act, whereas tasting requires physical movement. It intertwines the body with the mind and soul to make ethereal moments palatable.

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Thirsty Thursday

Last night we went to the Colonial Kitchen for a wine tasting. It was R100 for 6 wines and snacks. We found out about the event on Sunday when we were there for brunch after being there on Friday night for dinner. Its got a really great vibe and the food is amaing!

The winery was Windfall and it is located 40kilometers outside of Port Elizabeth. They also brought olive oil grown on their property to sample last night. Everything was quite good. Below are a few pictures from the event!

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