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The past two weeks, our group has lived in Khayelitsha, which is one of the Black Townships outside of Capetown. Many of the homes are "informal settlements," or shacks constructed of corrugated metal and scrap lumber, and some are cement block. Running water is a privilege, and we've had some interesting adjustments to taking sponge baths and using bathroom buckets overnight. So many aspects of life are different -- sleeping three to a double bed, eating dinner around 10:00 each night, not venturing outside after dusk, using hot milk on our cornflakes in the morning -- but so many are the same. Our families have been very hospitable, and try very hard to help us assimilate. :) Many of us have been given Xhosa names, Xhosa lessons, and some have Xhosa clothing. We've copied down recipes, taken pictures, and had some great discussions about their histories, America, and Governor Arnold.
While we've been in this neighborhood, we attend St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church. This past Sunday was a celebration of a new preist, so we heard hours of traditional music and saw the traditional dress. The church body is primarily families who live within walking distance, with lots of children in attendance.
This past week's academic focus was Trauma and Healing. We attended workshops on the healing of memory, and entertained several guest speakers who shared their work with victims and perpetrators. On Thursday we had to opportunity to visit The Center for Healing of Memories in CapeTown. Along with this exposure we all read "A Human Being Died Last Night", by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, to aid our processing of what it means to forgive and be reconciled. While we've had discussion of these topics before, this week has led to a deeper understanding of the complexity of these issues -- especially as we see them played out in the lives of the poeple we are living among.