From Erin Sio, science teacher:
March 7: It’s 12:45am here. Kids are all checked into their hotel rooms, and god willing, they will go to bed. It’ll be an early morning tomorrow–breakfast at 8:15 and then up to Table Mountain followed by the District 6 museum downtown in the city. After that we’re having a welcome dinner with our host families. I’ll try to post some photos tomorrow. I am off to bed. The groups traveled beautifully. I feel lucky.
March 8: newly opened, it’s designated as the Greenest Hotel in Africa. There were living walls, green roofs, geothermal heating and cooling, and sustainable grounds. After getting to bed late, the kids were up, packed and ready to roll at 9am. We headed to Karen’s house (she’s our logistical coordinator and a host parent) to drop off luggage and pick up lunch. Then we drove up to …Table Mountain and took the cable car to the top. The floor of the car rotates so everyone gets a 360 view. As I am sure you can tell from the photos, the cloud cover was low. At times we couldn’t see a thing, then seconds later the clouds would lift and there would be a spectacular view. We picnicked up top, then came down where it was sunnier and warmer.
After Table Mountain we visited the District Six museum. It’s a museum dedicated to remembering a vibrant and diverse neighborhood at the base of Table Mountain that the apartheid government claimed they wanted using a law similar to eminent domain. Families were forced to sell valuable land below value and if they didn’t concede, the government forcibly removed families from their homes. People were relocated to a desolate area 30km north of the city where there were no jobs and no public transportation. Our museum guide lived there and spoke of his experience. Elsie River, where the kids are living, is one of those areas in the Cape Flats.
We drove back to Karen’s for a welcome dinner with all the host families. The last of the photos shows the kids waiting in Karen’s back patio for dinner to be ready and host families to arrive. They were SOOO TIRED! They will certainly sleep well tonight.
Tomorrow is a big church day that the kids will spend with families. Afterward will be a traditional Sunday dinner. We adults will take a tour a bit outside the city as there is a world-class bike race in town, the Cape Argus race from Cape Town to Cape Point and back, and the last place to be in a car is anywhere near that bike route.
That’s it for now. We’ll have another update on Monday. I’ll try to have one of the kids write.
From Erin Sio, science teacher:
It’s 7:54pm local time here in the Johannesburg airport. We had a good (although long) flight out of Washington. Everyone did their best to sleep. Our flight for Cape Town leaves in an hour. More news later.
Students who will be doing service work in South Africa departed campus this morning at 11:30 a.m. Check back throughout their trip for updates!
Over the next few days spring service trips will be departing from George School. Students and faculty will be traveling together to France, Mississippi, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Washington DC. You can read updates from the trips right here on the blog and learn about the fun and important work our students are completing.
Learn more about each of the trips below:
Started in 1957, this relationship represents the longest running student exchange program between a US and a French high school. George School students work as teachers’ assistants in a variety of educational settings and live with local host families. A trip to Paris is one of the highlights. Students also join their host families for local sightseeing. French students, in turn, visit George School several weeks later.
Students work with Habitat for Humanity helping to build affordable houses along with those who lack adequate shelter in Northern Mississippi. The group also enjoys potluck dinners with current and future Habitat homeowners and other members of the community. Students build relationships with the community as they build homes. There also are opportunities to explore local sites of interest in northern Mississippi.
Students work as teachers’ assistants in our sister school in Barrio Riguero, a working-class Managua neighborhood. Other service opportunities may include repairing and upgrading
schools and health clinics in impoverished areas. Students stay with host families who speak very little or no English. Cultural excursions typically involve visits to artisan markets, and historic sites, as well as the lakes and volcanoes for which Nicaragua is known.
The South Africa service project immerses students in a cross cultural exchange with families from different communities in Capetown. Students will volunteer at an elementary and middle school during the day and assist at an orphanage in the afternoon. The orientation will include a review of the U.S. civil rights movement and conclude with an intense study of civil rights and apartheid in South Africa. Students will end their service by visiting the apartheid museum in Johannesburg.
Students volunteer at Martha’s Table, SOME (So Others Might Eat), DC Central Kitchen, and a local mission. Using Hostelling International as home base, students will have the opportunity to visit museums and explore our nation’s capital.