Settling Into Life at UCT

Naomi Runder
August 30, 2017

It’s been three weeks since classes started, and I’m starting to feel like an actual UCT student! That is, if the slim qualifications for that title are being able to find all my classes and finally understanding the Jammie schedule. No but really, now that I’ve got my ‘walking on the left’ skills down I might pass as a run of the mill UCT student. Minus the American accent that is. 

I’m taking two UCT classes: “Memory, Identity, and History” and “South African Politics” which are a history and a politics course respectively. Yes, I know; I’m a sociology major not taking any soc classes! But hey, schedules are tricky. My history course is comparative class examining how countries move on from authoritarian regimes, focusing specifically on South Africa, Germany, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Argentina. My politics class traces the development of South African Social Scientific Thought, especially highlighting the ways it is deeply intertwined with colonialism. My politics class in particular tries to counter dominant Western narratives and approaches to education, moving instead toward a decolonized model that privileges art, music, and personal narratives just as much as the written, academic texts. It’s refreshing and I can already tell that will impact the way I view my education in the United States. 

In addition to those two classes, I am taking a Health and Community Development course with IES Abroad and a weekly short course with UCT. You may have read a bit about the health course on IES Abroad's website, and it is pretty much what it sounds like. We are exploring community healthcare and health inequalities in the South African context, with a big focus on service learning and field trips to different clinics. Since I’m planning to go into public health, I was really excited for this course and am enjoying it so far. My short course at UCT just started this week, but I already love it! It’s called “Student Activism, Local Voices” and is basically facilitated way for students interested in the topic to discuss current South African issues together. Some of these issues include language, land reclamation, and gender and racial dynamics. I can tell it’s going to be a great way to  learn more about the South African context and meet UCT students with similar interests. 

Outside of classes, I am volunteering with SHAWCO and the Thethani Debating League. SHAWCO is my service learning partner for my IES Abroad course and throughout the semester I am going to be visiting to clinics in several different townships and helping out where needed. The debating league works with high school students in some of these same townships and helps with their debate teams as they practice and go to competitions. I’ve also signed up for two other campus groups dealing with Human right and activism (one of them being UCT’s Amnesty International chapter), but they’ve yet to start! Honestly, the main thing I’ve noticed is that you never have to look very hard for something to do at UCT. There are always events happening. There are always clubs to join. All that and, you know, schoolwork are keeping me pretty busy. I've only got three months left here this semester so I might as well make the most them!


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Naomi Runder

<p>Hello! I'm a current junior at Grinnell College, studying sociology and planning to go into public health policy. Outside of classes, I stay busy by volunteering to help (and play with!) dogs at the local animal shelter and organizing around national issues with other on-campus student activists. This semester in Cape Town will be my first time out of the United Staes, and I'm beyond excited to see where it takes me.</p>

Home University:
Grinnell College
Nashville, TN
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