This is a guest post written by Augsburg College student, JD Mechelke, after two months on CGEE Southern Africa program.
My eyes began to open, being disturbed by the slight shaft of light poking past the peaks of the mountains around our two story double decker sleeper bus. We were on the road all night traveling from Bloemfontein to Cape Town. I dug through my backpack and found my phone. It was a little past 5am. As the light behind the mountains grew I began to more accurately assess the highway we were traveling down. Though our bus was massive and the thruway vast, we were at the mercy of the mountains. But moments earlier, my conscience was somewhere else… Continue reading “Guest Blogger: JD Mechelke, Southern Africa October 2015”→
This is a guest post written by Augsburg College student, JD Mechelke, after one month on CGEE Southern Africa program.
The view was hard to take in. It was decaying. An endless view of tin, tarp, and cardboard roofs. It was not possible to distinguish between each jury-rigged shack. It wasn’t overtly overwhelming to me. I had encountered the sounds and smells of deep poverty before. The merciless sea that is Alexandria halted drastically as we stopped on a bridge passing over a freeway. When we got to the other side, I realized we weren’t in Alexandria anymore. My eyes bulged as I watched a Lamborghini drive into a mansion. We had entered Sandton, the richest municipality in South Africa. There was an endless contrast between the super rich of Sandton and the extreme poverty of Alexandria, separated by 8 lanes of freeway: now that was overwhelming. Continue reading “Guest Blogger: JD Mechelke, Southern Africa September 2015”→
1. Escape from your comfort zone and step outside of your norm.
2. Meet fellow American students who share similar passions and a spirit of adventure.
3. Intern at a local NGO (non-government organization) that not only immerses you in the community, but places you in the heart of current issues Namibia is facing today (something that will allow you to learn and grow everyday).
4. An opportunity to create lasting connections and experience unique personal growth.
5. Make cross-cultural connections between race dynamics in Southern Africa and the United States.
6. The opportunity to open your eyes up to the sides of the world which you haven’t seen and don’t know about in order to become a true global citizen.
7. Live in a small, intentional community where you can bond with other students on a deep level.
8. Interact with people from Namibia and across Southern Africa. By meeting so many people from around the region and taking time to learn about their various life experiences, it is impossible to come away from this trip believing in stereotype about “Africans”. You also get the chance to break down some assumptions about “Americans”.
9. An opportunity to live, grow, and learn in an enriching community (and let’s face it—the nightlife is awesome as well!)
10. Live in a beautiful country with stunning landscapes, mountains, coast lines, sand dunes. What more could you ask for?!
Students in Namibia spent a week in the Outapi community in the northern region of the country and participated in a rural home stay. The purpose of this home stay is to allow students the opportunity to learn what life in a rural area is like and to learn more about the northern part of the country, which is where a majority of the population in Namibia lives. Students were asked to share one word or phrase that they felt summarized their experience and here were their answers:
If you are passionate about the environment, consider study abroad in Namibia. The constitutional commitment to the environment, along with exposure to fascinating environmental organizations, makes it a great fit for students interested in global sustainability issues.
Namibia’s constitution contains three key environmental clauses relevant to sustainable use of natural resources:
1) The constitution vests all natural resources in the State, unless otherwise legally owned. Thus, unless legal ownership to natural resources in a specific locality is proven, such natural resources are owned by the State;
2) The constitution stipulates that the state shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies which include the: “maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the, benefits of all Namibians…”
3) The constitution requires investigation of complaints concerning “the over utilisation of living natural resources, the irrational exploitation of non-renewable resources, the degradation and destruction of ecosystems and failure to protect the beauty and character of Namibia.”
In the vein of these constitutional commitments, read on for a sampling of environmentally-related organizations and places of interest in Namibia
Kaokoland is home to the Himba, one of Namibia’s staunchly traditional tribes, a people you may be familiar with if you watched the film Babies. Kaokoland is very remote and sparsely populated due to its arid, rocky landscape.
There are some rivers and even waterfalls that provide a little greenery, as well as beautiful mountain ranges throughout.
Are you interested in learning about the environment in Southern Africa? We sat down with Frederick Simasiku, one of the coordinators of the Center for Global Education and Experience’s site in Namibia, to discuss the newest class to join the semester schedule, Environmental Sustainability in Southern Africa.
Frederick, why did you decide to create the class?
It was important to create the course because I wanted to provide a platform for students to explore the state of the environment in a Southern African context which is unique compared to other regions of the world. I also thought that it was important to have a course of this nature in order to offer students an opportunity to learn about both the environmental challenges and sustainable development challenges. There are courses such as religion, development, politics and history; I thought that it would be in the best interest for students to also have an opportunity to learn about the environmental issues while on the program.
Why do you believe it is important for students to learn about the environment in Southern Africa?
This course attempts to equip students with sufficient knowledge on how to be responsible global citizens. Global world citizens with environment and sustainability knowledge are needed in the 21st century in order to promote and advance environmental sustainability for sustainable development across the globe. Therefore, learning about the environment and sustainability issues in Southern African context provides the students with the necessary information and knowledge to explore about environmental issues globally. Students will be able to apply what they learn to other contexts in relation to environment and sustainability challenges.
What are some of the topics that you discuss in your class?
This course explores and examines the human-nature interface in a Southern African context of risk and vulnerability. Some of the topics that are covered by this course include:
* Sustainable Natural Resources Management
* Water Resources and Challenges in Southern Africa
* Environment and Urbanization
* Climate Change in Southern Africa
* Environmental Policy and legislation
* Environmental Movements: Re-defining Environmentalism
I see that you received your masters degree from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. Why did you decide to get your masters in Environment and Sustainability Education?
I studied at Rhodes University for my Masters because there were no courses available in my home country (Namibia) for this course. Rhodes University is a leader in environment and sustainability education on the African continent, and I thought that it would be the best idea to study at such an institution and learn from the best in the field. My favourite topics during my studies at Rhodes were research as well as a unit on education responses to environment and sustainability issues. One of my favourite moments while studying at Rhodes was to be part of a group of students from across southern Africa studying one course and learning from one another (that was special).
Thank you Frederick, for taking time to tell us about the Environmental Sustainability course that you teach.
By Linda Raven, Program Coordinator and Instructor, Southern Africa
Back,in September, I posted about my permaculture gardening project taking place at the CGE study abroad house in Namibia. Well, now we are long overdue for an update! The project has been going very well! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of it before I left for the holidays, but the best words to describe it at that time included: thriving, vibrant and abundant. I abandoned the project for 3 weeks over the holidays, during which time Namibia experienced some very hot and dry weather. Fortunately, Passat and Junobe stopped by once in a while and watered the garden. For this reason, the trees, the lemon grass, sweet potato, basil, lavender, rosemary and others survived! Unfortunately, even with the watering, most of the tomatoes and cucumbers didn’t make it. However, the worms survived, which I was thrilled to see! What’s more, purslane, a very nutritious and edible “weed” showed up. It’s now all over the garden.
Since the holidays, I have planted some more tomatoes and taken over more sections of the CGE land with a lemon tree, apricot tree, bay tree, celery, lettuce, more pomegranates, rosemary, tomatoes, basil, lavender and mint. I’ve also planted some chillies and put in more worm towers.
But the most exciting news of all is the laundry water recycling system. A few weeks back, Passat and I installed a system whereby natural laundry detergent users can put the drain pipe of the laundry machine into a pipe which lets the water run out to the garden. We drilled a bunch of holes in a pipe and snaked it through a trench in the garden to distribute the water throughout. Users of synthetic laundry detergent can leave the drain pipe of the laundry machine in the sink, where the water runs out to the municipal sewerage as usual. Reusing water will become more and more important to people all over the world, so its fantastic to start getting familiar with such systems.