March 27, 2012
Hillary Kane Reports on Her Experience in South Africa
Junior field hockey player Hillary Kane is studying abroad at Rhodes University in South Africa this semester and reports on her experience thus far:
This semester, I have been experiencing the life of an exchange student at Rhodes University, as I have gotten the remarkable opportunity to study abroad in Grahamstown, South Africa. While to the western world South Africa may seem like the ?Garden of Eden? of all African countries, in reality it is facing some of the worst economic, healthcare, and housing issues in the world. My decision to come to South Africa roots back to a class I took at WC on human rights and social justices. Learning about the atrocities occurring particularly in the African continent struck a chord inside of me.
Upon arrival, I knew that volunteer work would be especially pivotal in fulfilling this experience. I decided to join the Rhodes University Community Engagement program (RUCE), where I would be able to pick a certain organization that spoke to me. Children have always played a huge role in my life, as I have been a nanny every summer since the age of 15, therefore working at a preschool seemed like the best fit. Through RUCE, I am able to visit a local preschool called ?Little Flower?, where 45 kids all between the ages of 10 months and six years attend. The preschool is a one-room shack with no running water. Three teachers are responsible for all of the children, and provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the kids in addition to basic educational instruction. The first time I arrived at Little Flower, a crowd of little isiXhosa-speaking children bombarded me desperately seeking attention and love. Instantly I felt at home, and even though the language barrier was tough at first, I have adapted quickly.
Volunteering with these kids has opened up a new door in my life. I?ve never experienced poverty at the level that these kids live in every day. This crude exposure has furthermore intensified my dreams of working for a non-governmental organization geared towards promoting a universal set of human rights and raising the standards of living for all.