IEE Newsletter No. 21

MADM: Summer School in Cape Town

In January the Bochum and the Cape Town group of the current MADM intake met in Cape Town for the second summer school. MADM student Mariamelia Abellan Perez from Costa Rica shares her experience of the summer school.

As part of the MADM Programme, a Summer School in Cape Town took place in January 2015. While thinking about a summer course in this astonishing city, its famous summer atmosphere, oceans, sand, and warm weather immediately pop into your head. However, these intense four weeks became more than an academic journey and a period of well-deserved relaxation, they were a once in a lifetime experience, full of lessons and challenges.

Coursework Part I: How to Conduct a Field Survey

We began the lecture programme with a course known as "How to conduct a field survey". It taught us the necessary skills for preparing research questionnaires. We explored techniques for gathering decisive data during some excursions around Cape Town and learned how to process it with SPSS. Participating in the data collection exercise was undoubtedly one of the most enriching experiences of the course.

The Beauty of Cape Town

Aside from the opportunity to communicate with tourists and South Africans about their self-perceived level of satisfaction with their lives, we experienced many breathtaking landscapes that will stay in our memories forever. Places like Hout Bay, with its turquoise water, and the Cape of Good Hope, where the infinite oceans will make you feel like a little speck of dust. The Boulders Beach had its sweet but smelly penguins swimming around us on its shore, while Signal Hill's sunset decorated the skyline with its flashing red, yellow, orange, pink and purple aurora. The marine fauna of the Two Oceans Aquarium, and Blouberg Beach with white sand and kite surfing, and everything in between are experiences that will shape the rest of my life. And let's not forget the majestic Table Mountain (see picture below), one of the world's new seven wonders of nature, accompanied by imposing Lion's Head and Devil's Peak. Cape Town is certainly a corner of the world that gathers all the beauty you could ever imagine. It's dreaming with your eyes opened.
CT Summer school Table Mountain

Contrasts and Indifference

Look around, and you'll see the vibrant people walking along Longstreet, the luxurious hotels in front of Camps Bay, and the modern highways and buildings form part of the wealthiest sides of the city. However, not far away from this reality, there are thousands of people struggling to find jobs, feed their children, and survive through the complicated living standards in the townships. Development and underdevelopment meet within a few square meters of each other. That's Cape Town: contrasts and indifference.
The racial segregation, discrimination, and resentment among its people can still be felt, as you walk through the streets. Apartheid was an historical structure of oppression that has caused structural hindrances that affect the social cohesion of the country. In doing so, the country suffers a delay in its progress. The sad, but honest truth is, you can still see old wounds that haven't been healed. Unquestionably, it's a cultural and social challenge, where a lot of collaborative work is necessary.

Khayelitsha and the Iliso Care Society

In addition to the excursions we went on to gather data, we took a trip to Khayelitsha, South Africa's second largest township with a size of 43.51 square kilometers. We initially visited the "Lookout Hill Tourism Centre", where we received valuable information about Khayelitsha's key demographics, history, geography, and economics, followed by a visit to "Iliso Care Society", a Non-profit organization that established a housing and feeding scheme for orphaned children through a Childhood Development Centre. Now, it also has a youth sewing programme, food garden and women's health programme.
Khayelitsha is an area where many coloured and black townships were created during South Africa's apartheid era. Despite the presence of poverty and violence in the communities, the strength, joy, and kindness of its members are inspiring. Iliso Care Society shows how a community can have their hearts beating at the same pace towards a common goal.
Having the opportunity to see and feel this reality is priceless. This experience not only widened our comprehension of the complexities of underdevelopment. It also taught us to appreciate it through the eyes of our individual backgrounds, how different cultures and countries share similar problems.

Coursework Part II: Law and Development and Social Policy

Once the field research course ended, we had the chance to choose between two different courses for the last week: Law and Development or Social Policy for Developing Countries. This first one had the objective of familiarizing students with the regimes of international economic law and international, regional and national human rights law from the perspectives of developing countries, while the second course, "Social Policy for Developing Countries" taught students about the theoretical framework for assessing and understanding the interconnectedness between economic and social policy in any given country. The courses provided tools to comprehend the constraints faced in alleviating poverty and an overview of policy models in a range of developing countries. Both courses complemented our knowledge in development management and broadened our scope of analysis by providing us new tools on social policies and legal foundations of development cooperation.

A Weekend in Franschhoek

Aside from the daily excursions, we spent one weekend in Franschhoek. With fine wine tasting and a unique tram, local markets and excellent food were part of the leisure activities we enjoyed. The cold breeze at night makes you miss the radiant sun during the day, but the truth is, this welcoming place warmed up our skin and our souls alike.

A Group Experience

CT Summer school Students
MADM students from Bochum and Cape Town group together (photo: private)

All of these experiences in the Summer Course made us grow as individuals, but also together as a family, as "Ubuntu": the African belief that those who are ready to join hands can overcome the greatest challenges. We learned to live as part of an intercultural group. The strength we have developed as a team is, perhaps, the most valuable lesson this summer course could have taught us. It was in the world of Cape Town, that we found ourselves: its people, culture, music, sunsets, and breathtaking landscapes opened our hearts and minds to a different understanding of the world.

Mariamelia Abellan Perez
MADM Student in Bochum

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