Parting is such sweet sorrow- especially when you have fallen in love with a place as much as I have in Cape Town! However, I cannot continue to brush my homesickness under the rug any longer. Being abroad longer than any of the other University of Kentucky students I am living with at the moment, I have persistently pushed through my subtle bouts of longing for “My Ol’ Kentucky Home”. Though it seems that with the exponential amount of stress I have endured over the past week or so in regards to my internship at the Black Sash, finishing up class work, and finalizing plans for the next semester I have gradually let my guard down and become infected with this strange urge to be in a place which I have spent my entire life honestly trying not to be.
There are things that I won’t miss about this specific internship and trip to Cape Town however; namely the complicated transportation arrangements to and from our respective internships and the numerous little rodents which clandestinely consume all of our food and sometimes literally go airborne across my bedroom. Miraculously, I still type these reflections with a genuine and impervious smile; because, while this trip through the University wasn’t entirely perfect all the time and some students couldn’t complete his or her stay in the city or at their internships, each component of my time here in Cape Town and at the Black Sash has collectively formed many of the most memorable, worthwhile, and mind-evolving experiences of my life.
Much of these experiences have manifested through the networking and professional opportunities which, ironically, stem from the same stress which has inhibited my “enjoyment” of the city these past few weeks. Today was the conclusion of my eight week internship at the human rights organization Black Sash; a historical struggle foundation which presently seems to affirm and preserve the rights of the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights alongside tabling certain key socio-economic issues. The project, which I have explained before, was to take the Bill of Rights document and transpose it in such a way which yields a meaningful and age-related product for Macmillan publishers to include on an in-text CD-ROM for South African high schools. I have been working endlessly to make my portion of the content up to “Black Sash” standards and to make it worthy of their branding before the official submission. Today, at last, I sat down with my two supervisors Sarah (who just returned from a long safari holiday in Kruger) and Ruen (the interim supervisor for the past few weeks) and presented the fruits of my at times intensive labor and “unpacking” of dense pockets of information as I have heard it referred to! I am sufficiently proud and relieved at the same time to report that the internship appears to have been a success; the Black Sash has a good amount of content to work with once the team fully departs throughout out next week and has (after several revisions, citation searching, and a whole bandwidth’s worth of case-studies) become what can be an important resource not only for instructors in the 26,000 schools it will be delivered to but also in the NGO sphere with the Black Sash website and South African History Online.
The class through the University of Kentucky as well has been a success; at least in my opinion. While some of my other flat mates have enjoyed Cape Town a little too much and “forgot” about some of the required readings for the course, I have found each and every one enlightening, relevant, and having the potential for some pretty decent debate. Unfortunately for our instructors sake many of the students, including me from time to time, honestly either “forgot” to read or was either too tired or sick (which happened an abnormally amount of times for all of us on the trip for some reason) each morning to adequately engage with instruction. I have to admit, though, that the majority of the readings, speakers, and discussions were more than beneficial to my understanding of a culture and society which I had only learned about thousands of miles away on a different continent. It became acutely relevant to at least to be witness to the discussions and content so as to begin fully comprehending the implications and idiosyncrasies of the environment in which we were all being fully immersed in and given the full experience rather than one through the world of traditional academia back on campus in Kentucky.
As I depart tomorrow, with or without the promise of return, I feel like I will be torn between two worlds in a bold and cathartic sense. I will miss the piña coladas at Trench Town, the sunsets at Camps Bay, the sacred beauty of Cape Point, the views from atop Table Mountain, and even the steroidal racial converse which at least ensures that issues are addressed and provides an interest of progress. Most importantly, though, I think I will remember the people of this fantastic and promising city the most. Nestled in the most beautiful spot in the world and within the most dedicated nations I know of in the world, Cape Town is not only home to the most beautiful beaches in the world- but also the kindest, most welcoming, and heartfelt people you will ever meet.