Thanksgiving is a well known, important holiday in America. Who would have thought families in Cape Town, South Africa would want to experience it with us. I live with Justin Hershey, two retired parents and an older brother. The first day we arrived in our home-stay we were showered with love and questions about Thanksgiving. Soon week two rolled around, and we were asked to make pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes because that is American. Thanksgiving Day was soon upon us and we came home to a hustling, bustling mother. She didn’t do anything without a smile. We made the potatoes along side of her in the open door, 27 degree Celsius weather. It was the warmest Thanksgiving ever!
Soon family members began to arrive. We added chairs and tables to include ten people. At first it was quiet, but eventually the table erupted with sounds of laughter and stories. I felt at home in South Africa on the day set apart to be thankful for your home. A love for this new family enclosed me. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have had Thanksgiving in South Africa.
Cape Town is an important economic, political, and cultural center in South Africa, as well as the origin of western influence in the region. It differs greatly from other places we have visited on this cross-cultural in that we are again surrounded by the establishments and ideologies of western society that were far distant for the majority of the trip. Seeing and being immersed in modern technology, media, consumerism, and a “comfortable” lifestyle has been enjoyable, but I don’t feel the same care or urgency to build relationships that I felt in Lesotho or Soweto. Here, life is full of material things and entertainment, eliminating the need for much human interaction while leaving many satisfied and happy, just like in America.
On the brighter side of things, weather has been gorgeous, in the 70’s, with sun almost every day, and flowers blooming around every corner. Hikes up the various mountain peaks within the city have had rewarding views. Two or three times a week our group meets for lectures at the University of Cape Town, with subjects ranging from current politics to the history of slavery in South Africa.
We have been quite lucky to have visits from notable historians like Nigel Warden, and respected political analysts like Richard Calland. Most recently, Calland educated us about the socio-economics of South Africa’s Constitution, that is, all people’s rights to housing, food, clean water etc. These are necessities that have yet to be universally available to all South Africans. We are thankful for one last set of graciously welcoming host-families, and can’t wait to be welcomed home by our real families very soon. In the meantime, the waves and warm ocean call, and I must answer before I find myself in an all together different kind of December weather, across the sea.