Good things come to those who work for it.
By: Bird, Junior, Iowa
Tony, standing about five and a half feet tall wearing a blue button up shirt and khakis, was our tour guide through the University of Western Cape, the Nooitgedauitt Primary School, and through some of Cape Towns oldest townships.
Wide-eyed TTS girls followed Tony through several school buildings on the University of Western Cape campus. I asked him about a poster on the wall with the slogan “Turn your what if into something big”! Tony personally turned his personal “what if” into something big by working from the age of 12 to save for college. He expressed frustration with some UWC students who take a palm open approach, expecting everything to be given to them.
The students at Nooitgedauitt Primary School have their “what if”s in mind but aren’t sure if it will turn into “something big”. We didn't have much time to talk with the students, but we did have a chance to hear their “what if”s.
Tony stuck with his message of hard work over handouts as we drove through the townships. The two bedroom cinder block homes take up to three times as much space as the shacks once there before. Continuing to drive through the new homes in the township, we were astonished by the contrast of living styles between the township people. We eventually squeezed through a street with shanties on either side.
The People in the Shadows
By: Eleanor, Sophomore, California
"Robben Island was the 1840's dumping ground", explained our guide, Toiey, as we bumped along an asphalt road with penguin crossing signs passing by. Toiey(pronounced Toy-a) told us, with a tone hinting at indignant, about how many saw Robben Island as simply a political prison which held Nelson Mandela. In fact, he stated, Mandela only spent eighteen of his twenty-seven years of imprisonment on the Island, and Robben had been used as a prison for five hundred years. We listened to this new information, sixteen heads bent over hastily scribbled notes. We had arrived with preconceived notions already being annihilated by Robben Island's rolling hilltops dotted with sporadic buildings, previously assumed to be an Island consumed by the prison, much more Alcatraz-like.
We were expecting to experience a place scarred by suppressed freedom and political angst, what lay before us bore much more. Robben Island started as a leper colony,ostracized and banished to die. Loved ones were separated, be they male and female, for fear they would have a child. There are twelve to thirteen hundred graves on the island today, the only sign these people ever existed. One church remains standing, the rest of this colony's homes and buildings were demolished as soon as they died. Many of them were not lepers at all but had contracted a rash and with one glance, doctors would diagnose them with leprosy and seal their fate of doom.
This event which was so monumental in so many lives, was almost forgotten as soon as something else of importance happened. There can only be one legacy for a place and it can only be good or bad. The good things of Robben Island, penguins frolicking, beautiful scenery, inmates during the apartheid era getting a magnificent education, turn invisible in the light of the tragic injustices committed.
Our trip to Robben Island decimated our assumptions and showed us that history is not confined to the textbook. We walked in the footsteps of some of the most powerful and inspiring leaders in the world and learned about sufferings of the people within the shadows.
Summitting Table Mountain
By: Emilee, Sophomore, Montana
Weaving our way among boulders and rocky paths, the breath-taking rock formations of Table Mountain loomed above us. Small drops of water fell from the sides of cliffs and TTS hiked up the last incline of rocky path, reaching the top of Table Mountain. Emerging from the shade of the gorge, we were engulfed in sun that lit up the surface of the mountain, lifting our moods and encouraging a sense of accomplishment. How did we make it to the top of the mountain?
Starting from the Zebra Crossing Hostel, we trekked up a hill with the morning sun beating down on us, finally arriving at the trail head which lead us to the mountain. An estimation of three hours one way was our expected time hiking. Strapping on our day packs, we set off! For about an hour we went directly uphill, stopping for much needed water breaks. Though doubtful of the trail choice we had made, we soon began to hike up the mountain. "We're heading up!" or other cheers could be heard as encouragement filled the air.
While covering more and more ground, the city of Cape Town appeared to become smaller as we gained height from the steep mountain side. Seeing the scattered houses, mountains, and bay behind us, the enormity of Cape Town came into perspective. "We're on top of the bottom of the world!" Anna announced. The gorge came into view and everyone became anxious since the top was so near. Our legs grew tired but we hiked on and the feeling we felt when we stood on top of Table Mountain was incomparable to any other moment. White fluffy clouds spotted the bright blue sky and the rough mountain with green bushes surrounded us as we turned in circles at the beauty. Not only did we push through the difficult moments of the hike, everyone was supportive to other girls when they most needed it.
After congratulating each other, we formed a circle and each girl dedicated her hike up Table Mountain to a friend, family member, or someone they admire. The wind blew across the mountain and we explored the views of Cape Town before loading onto the gondola. The gondola ride smoothly took us through the air and hung over the trail we had successfully hiked. At the end of the day, our feet were tired but we were all proud of each other for pushing through challenges and reaching a rewarding goal.