TTS22 Group photo

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More academic updates - Literature, History, and Global Studies

Honors History and Government of Southern Africa 
view from Mandela's cell

While in Cape Town students visited Robben Island and were toured through the prison by an ex-prisoner! Imprisoned for 8 years, he told the story of why he was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to a term on the Island. He spoke of the reverence he had for Mandela, Sisulu and Tambo, who were imprisoned just 50 meters away, yet whom he never saw. At the time of my writing, students are in their homestays with Cape Coloured families. One of the most exciting aspects of their homestays is that many of them are older, which means they can share their first-hand experiences of Apartheid. Already students are connecting various policies they read about to the life-experiences of the families. This week we will visit the District 6 museum, the site of  the forced removal of 70,000 Coloured inhabitants in the creation of a white community, which will cap off our time in South Africa. Students also recently visited a privately-owned diamond museum, where they received a particular perspective of history from the diamond companies. It will be fascinating to explore the social ramifications of mining once we travel to Namibia and stop in abandoned mining towns. On the ferry to Robben Island I asked students to connect mining to the prison. We still have much work to do in connecting the dots, but their brains are on fire. Go history students!
political graffiti in Cape Town
Political graffiti in Cape Town

Honors World Literature and Composition

For the past few weeks the tension has run high for literature students. What would happen to Orleanna, Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May? Without television or internet, students began to see The Poisonwood Bible as their daily dose of drama. They shrieked when they finished a chapter, and others ran about with their fingers in their ears as some students finished the novel, not wanting to know what happened next until they could read it for themselves. Often, on the truck and in the tents one student would read aloud while others gathered around wide-eyed. After a bit of slam poetry on the beach in Jeffrey's Bay, students embarked on a 3-day hike. Each day when we arrived at our cabin the students found a spot on the rocks or in the sun to work on their analytical essays. They exchanged papers, and helped each other through the process. Now that the novel, and their midterms, are finished, the students are wondering 'what next?' They will find out their next installment soon...

Global Studies 

The Global Studies course is a 'catch-all', tying all of the classes together and relating the material to not only the place we're in, but the place students are from. Students just finished the nonfiction account of an Afrikaner's reluctant return to South Africa's apartheid, My Traitor's Heart, exploring concepts of identity, guilt, love, and responsibility. These themes weave through each experience, conversation, and site visit. From speaking to Xhosa boys on the riverfront about their lives in Mandela's hometown, to hearing about an instance of mob justice from the director of an AIDS organization, the students are strengthening their skills in making connections beyond textbooks. They are actively practicing their critical thinking skills, and brimming with questions at each turn. They want to know 'how?' and 'why?' from each person we meet. As we prepare to head up to Namibia, students will begin to think about eco-tourism and vanishing cultures.

Young Xhosa Dancer

Cape Coast Highway near Cape Town- (notice the unique geological rock variation)

Sunrise on the savannah

One large Baobab tree

*Please note these pics are from previous trips.

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