Monday, November 2, 2015

My last day in Johannesburg

I woke up with a certain sense of sadness today. I am not yet ready to leave and there are so many more people I want to meet. I sense also that I am just starting to get a feel for the people and the country. I am really taken with South Africa and its multiple complexities.

This morning Smiley and I went to the University of Johannesburg to attend a meeting with Adelaide Sheik (Head of Department for the Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Social Economy of UJ), Ntsiki Mkhize and Alistair (who work at the Center), and Julie Adair from Glasgow Caledonian University. Julie is the Director of Digital Collaboration and wanted to bring us into the loop on a project which is currently in proof of concept phase. It's an interesting project to create a digital platform for community service providers (of the change making sort) so that they can learn from each other and also with the objective of providing access to academic researchers so that they may assess/research trends and game changing approaches in the social service community.

Following the meeting, it was time to say goodbye to Smiley. It is a difficult thing to do. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know him. He has made quite an impression on me, professionally and personally.

Before I leave this evening, I decided to go to the Apartheid Museum which is close to the guest house. I have heard from multiple people that it is very impactful and well curated. It most certainly is. By the time I left the museum, I felt a mixture of wanting to go lie down in a dark corner for a while (to recover from the experience) and a sense of hope for the future. The museum is structured to give you the history of apartheid from the beginning of the influx of people to South Africa for the gold rush until today. The architecture is stark and powerful and on each admission ticket, a person receives a racial classification of white or non-white and asked to use the appropriate door to the museum. I'm glad I managed to get to here before I leave town as it leaves me with a message of hope and re-affirmation of the strength of the local community.

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