I officially have only one day left in Cape Town, a fact that really hit me for the first time when we were driving home from Khayelitsha two nights ago. It is only a fraction of my life that I have been here, but in that small fraction, this place has also become my home. I have carved out a small space for myself here. I have a temporary home, I can cross the roads with ease, and I can use public transportation. I can speak a few words in Afrikaans, and fewer in Xhosa. On a few occasions I have even been mistaken for South African and asked for directions. In many ways I feel I have been absorbed into Cape Town, in its spoken dialects, body language, elocution, and mannerisms. I can eat (though less gracefully than true South Africans) without utensils, and though I still enjoy my personal space, my bubble has gotten smaller.
In many ways though, I’m still very American, and I’m sure I will realize this even more after I return home. I miss being able to wash my hands with soap whenever I use a public restroom. I enjoy being able to use the restroom without first having to purchase toilet paper by the square. I miss being able to walk outside at night, alone even, without heightened senses. I like when my milk can last longer than 3 or 4 days before spoiling. I like the orderliness of traffic and when people abide by the traffic light signals even when there is no one else around (this usually happens here, but not always). I like that teachers should have less than 30 students per class, and that libraries should not be luxuries in schools. I like that, though there are socioeconomic disparities in the US, they are less so along racial lines (though we still have a long way to go in this matter).
Though my time here is nearing its end, our program matters will not end until we get to the airport. Last evening I gave my final presentation on the factors affecting quality teaching and learning in South Africa, and I now all I have left is to complete my final research report on the same topic, which I anticipate accomplishing later today. And finally, one last trip to the market in town. Then all that is left is packing my suitcase, deciding what to take with and what to leave behind, and understanding how these last five months of people, challenges, and experiences are going to impact the rest of my life; and the latter is not something that can be stuffed in a suitcase.
8 years ago