we live in a time of storm
But this weather
will not last.
The tide will turn
—Peter E. Clarck, from District Six Museum, Cape Town
As part of the UHC South Africa Field Study Program, seven other Pitt students and I visited a number of cities in South Africa—Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, as well as Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, before settling in rural Mpumalanga for seven weeks. As part of the program, we visited some of the major tourist attractions such as Robben Island, Table Mountain, and Winelands Tours in Cape Town, the Apartheid Museum and the Cradle of Mankind in Johannesburg, and a game reserve in Mpumalanga.
For the latter part of our journey, the Pitt group joined 20 other American students from various universities through an NGO, Student Movement for Real Change (SMRC). During our seven-week stay in a rural Mpumalanga community, many projects were undertaken by the group of 28 American students—a community soccer tournament in a local high school, two weeks of camp, two library-organizing and refurbishing projects, and more. As part of the collaboration with SMRC, I was able to facilitate the establishment of a health education program by a group of trained local women.
Though I only travelled throughout South Africa and Lesotho, I felt as though I had been to two different continents. Going from westernized cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg with all the glitz and glamour to Lesotho and rural Mpumalanga where electricity and running water were not guaranteed was an experience in learning of the contrasts of the world we live in.