Major: African and African American Studies
Minor: Creative Writing
College year while abroad: Junior
About the photo: Me at the V&A Waterfront with Table Mountain in the back.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Cape Town?
I was strongly encouraged by my major and other peers to apply to the program to not only compliment my studies by engaging in race relations in a different context, but to take advantage of the many opportunities that Stanford provides. I also wanted to kick off a goal of mine of visiting several countries on the African continent.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Cape Town?
I was very intentional about having no expectations, and I try to keep this in mind when entering any new space or place. I didn’t want the “Africa” that is portrayed in the media to influence my thoughts going in. So kept a blank slate and open arms! I did not expect to be confronted with my global identity. That was on my mind much more than I forethought.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Cape Town?
Being in Cape Town fed my studies deeply. Dr. June Bam was extremely helpful in pushing me in my studies on the legitimization of indigenous practices in academia and decolonization. She opened me up to a wealth of scholars and inquiries that I had no idea were out there. The best part was that while I was having a independent directed reading with her, I was able to see all my readings in action within her class Sites of Memory. A very holistic experience.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
I learned that I was American! Obviously, I knew I was American. But while at home, I don’t prescribe to any kind of patriotism for this country. I identify as a Black Woman. But having this accent, and this passport, and this Stanford education comes with opportunities and privileges and I had to figure out a way to own that, then ask myself how do I navigate the globe in the most ethical and conscious way.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?
I’m just going to be completely honest here. I keep myself in an African-American safe haven here at Stanford. It is very rare that I find myself in majority white spaces, outside of classrooms, for many reasons. So when I saw that my cohort was about 2/3 white, I was a little discomforted, and it was challenging for me to find points of connection. But I did learn those points of connections, and when to use them. I also learned boundaries and limits for myself which applies to all people. I learned to intuitively pick up on when to retreat and when to engage.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
The visceral segregation of the city. It’s one thing to read about and study the remnants of apartheid but getting used to seeing the racial divide and the socioeconomic connections to that divide took some time, and I can’t say that I completely adjusted by the end of my time.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Cape Town?
The security guards, especially Thandi, my driver Conway, our house helpers Memory (and her baby girl Princess) and Polite. I loved having conversations and getting hugs from them. First, what a privilege to be afforded their services, and the icing on the cake was that they were some of the most down to earth and loving people I have ever encountered.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Cape Town?
When we visited the Castle of Good Hope for our Sites of Memory class. We had Bradley, of the indigenous Khoi peoples, give us a decolonized tour of the space that highlighted indigenous and enslaved peoples narratives instead of the Dutch empire. It was an emotional heavy day, but my favorite because we did some deep healing work and engaged with the horrors of colonization.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
Evolution, Connections, Embrace, Grapple, Defining.
What was your favorite food you had in Cape Town?
The delicious Cape Malay food which consisted of chicken curry, rice and roti. Just amazing!
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
Family pictures. It always important for me to see my family when I wake up. They remind me of how blessed I am, to always be grateful for all my opportunities, and reaffirm all the hard work I put in on a daily basis.
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Cape Town?
Every Stanford undergraduate should give serious consideration to studying overseas.
Regardless of the academic path you choose, you will be enriched by time spent in another country. Achieving cultural literacy and gaining substantive understanding of other perspectives in the world will deepen your awareness of yourself, your educational goals, and your own society. Nearly one-half of each graduating class studies abroad through one of Stanford's overseas programs.
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