Thursday, June 4, 2009
STUDENT REFLECTION - Cape Town Refugee Center - Kathrine Olsen Flaate
South Africa has a lot to offer to its tourists and its people. However the benefits are not equally distributed. Every day various aspects of inequality come to the surface, either by seeing the townships or going to spend the night at a nice house. Or buying something at a store, only to later to find that the same product is sold at a market for a different price. These examples are only a few shallow ones. When one walks in the streets of Cape Town one is exposed to two completely different worlds; extreme urban poverty to Gucci bag carriers. While observing peoples' interactions it almost seems as white and black still live in separate worlds, despite the end of apartheid. I one day had a conversation with a white female. To my surprise she told me about her envy of people living the townships. While conversing with her she reasoned it by saying that inside the shacks are beautiful furniture and no rent to pay nor taxes.Through my internship at the Cape Town Refugee Center, I have become exposed to another world as well; the world of refugees, all those who comes to South Africa to seek asylum. It is hard to learn that xenophobia is one of the major parts of a refugee's everyday life. Even if it is a reality that is not fun to recognize, it has to be done. One of the most interesting things I have learned despite all the inequality is that South Africans never give up; they have hope for the future. When talking with a black friend about racial attitudes she mentioned that there are still struggles today, and some people are still stuck in the 1980’s. However there is hope for improvements for the future generations. I think that it is this hope for improvement and solidarity that gives South Africa such a significant atmosphere of hope and spirit for the better; for the future. Everyone seeks freedom, and they are not willing to give it up, no matter how far the walk is. Being here, experiencing, and learning new things every day, I have come to understand that it is true: each drop is what creates the ocean.