Well, I came to South Africa with basically no expectations. I came that way mostly so I wouldn’t be disappointed but also because I didn’t know what to expect. Before landing in Johannesburg, I started getting a little nervous about customs because I had to claim anything that I had that was worth over 3000 Rand ($500-ish). I was bringing a laptop, a really nice video camera, and a really nice digital camera in my carry-on and I had an xbox in my check-in luggage.
When we arrived, Brittney and I didn’t arrive with our luggage. So we gave them our information and they said they’d deliver it to the house (It’s Wednesday). Customs was easy, I had to go through the “red” line because I had things to claim, but they didn’t even ask about them. So I walked right through. We were greeted by about 50 people in uniforms who wanted to help us with our bags, but you have to tip them, so I told them no. They’re very tenacious; I ended up having to follow someone they were helping and pretend I was with him. Joey went up by himself to our next departure terminal, so I took Brittney and Liz to the domestic depatures- which is a long walk- that that was our first introduction into the culture.
When we were flying over Port Elizabeth, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. I couldn’t believe I would be living here.
That night, we went to the Gospel Chariot Meeting, which is a truck that drives around southern Africa and hosts week long campaigns. All of the colored people from the area came so we got to be immersed into the culture our first night.
My next point–
Basically, there are 3 “races” here: The White “Afrikaaners” which are for the most part very rude and rigid and unfriendly toward Americans, there are the Blacks, but within them they are still divided up by different tribes, and then there are the colored- the muts- they’re the ones that don’t fit into a category. Lots of Indians, but mostly people who are both Black and White, I guess. Some colored people are whiter than I am, and some are pretty much pure black, but the way you know that they’re colored is by the way they act. They are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. And they’re very loud. They’re very touchy- it’s common for the guys to kiss the girls (on the lips) as a greeting- which is cool.
So, we got here on a Wednesday, one of Brittney’s bags came on Friday, and I had to live out of 2 pairs of clothes for 91 hours. I got my luggage on Sunday. Brittney’s other bag came a couple of days later.
Hooray for world traveling.
Yesterday, we went to one of the parliament buildings in Bhisho and had a LONG meeting about what we’ll be doing. We basically were creating a partnership with the government to build credibility when we go into a new school and at the same time, we were getting permission to go into schools. In our province, there are about 6000 schools, and we can go into vertually all of them.
What we offer the schools is a character building curriculum for 1st-6th grade. We teach them values and morals using the bible. The curriculum is not mandatory, but it is available for the teachers to use. We will be going into 3 pilot schools soon to teach them how to use the curriculum. It’s not just the curriculum that will change this kids, so what we encourage the schools and communities to do is to have after school programs and show them how to practice concepts of “sharing” and “loving”-concepts that we take for granted, really, because we assume everyone knows them- by being examples.
There’s a school here that has already implemented the curriculum, and now (probably not directly because of the curriculum) is a internationally recognized school. The principle is in Canada right now receiving an award for his school.