* This is the first in a series of dispatches from Cape Town, South Africa, where five USC Annenberg students are working as interns for eight weeks. Journalism professor Erna Smith serves as a faculty advisor for the team, which will work for news publications and a diplomatic organization. *
By Meredith Deane
We have just finished our first week in Cape Town, and what a whirlwind of enculturation it has been! “We” are five students from USC Annenberg’s masters programs who will be interning for various news publications and – in my case – for a diplomatic organization.
We are pictured (from left to right):
• Lauren Foliart (Print Journalism, Class of ’13), working at The Weekend Argus.
• Tallie Johnson (Broadcast Journalism, Class of ’13), working at Cape Town TV.
• Tricia Tongco (Radio Journalism, Class of ’13), working at Children’s Radio Foundation.
• Myself, Meredith Deane (Public Diplomacy, Class of ’12), working at the U.S. Consulate’s American Corner of Cape Town’s Central Library.
• Angela Blakely (Online Journalism, Class of ’13), working at News 24.
Three of us are California natives (Angela, Lauren and Tricia), while Tallie and I are California transplants, from Texas and New York, respectively.
After two long flights and a brief but exciting 8-hour layover in Dubai, we arrived in Cape Town last Monday, and have spent the last week touring the city and learning about its history. After settling into our apartments in the downtown area known as the City Bowl last Monday, we joined our journalism professor Erna Smith for our first meal in South Africa to kick off an intensive week of non-stop touring and meetings to learn everything we could about the culture here before starting our internships this week.
In just five days, we: took a walking tour of the City Bowl’s historic sites and neighborhoods; visited the District 6 Museum commemorating the mixed-race neighborhood that was demolished during apartheid after the City Bowl was declared a “whites-only” area; took a bus tour from the foothills of the stunning, flat-topped Table Mountain range to the scenic beaches of Sea Point and Camps Bay on the east side of the peak; visited a community garden and after-school youth programs in performing arts in Guguletu township where an estimated 40 percent of the population is unemployed and most continue to live in shacks made of corrugated tin; and took the ferry to Robben Island to the jail – now converted to a museum– where political prisoners including Nelson Mandela were imprisoned during apartheid. Needless to say, we were all pretty exhausted by the end of the week!
We spent most of the weekend on local errands, but got tons of local flavor at both a nearby dance club on Friday night, and a previously blacks-only bar on Saturday with some local residents we had met earlier in the week to watch the Chelsea vs. Baynard soccer game. After a mellow Sunday, we are all looking forward to starting work this week, and will update soon about our work assignments when we do. Until then, we are staying “sharp,” to borrow some South African slang!