A Return to Ocean View
Each semester, students in the CIEE Cape Town exchange program are sent on a three-day homestay in Ocean View, a Coloured township outside Cape Town. Nestled near the sea, Ocean View is distinctly different from the greater Cape Town metropolitan area and the middle class suburbia that the students would have gotten used to. It's smaller for one thing, and slightly less well off. But none of these things deter the Ocean View community from offering their own distinctive brand of hospitality.
Last semester, it was an adventure of note to have journeyed to Ocean View for the first time. Staying with my host mom was just like being at home. I was pampered and fed beyond gluttony, which is an absolute luxury when you're a student at university. I was given tours of the small community and even managed to do some volunteer services for the church in Ocean View. All in all, it was a truly enlightening experience. I am glad that for many of the students who went on the Fall program have the same positive views to report.
"It's so good that we were taken out of our comfort zone" a student in my house reported, "it is easy to slip into the mistake of thinking that all of Cape Town is one homogenous environment of clubs and high living - Ocean View exposed me and my housemates to a different way of living."
Though poor and underdeveloped, Ocean View is a bustling and vibrant community of Coloured people that were relocated there during South Africa's Apartheid era. The racial dynamics of the settlement are no secret and its history is rich with stories of forced removals. Just being in the place shows you how differently people were treated across the racial spectrum. "I've already been to Nyanga and Langa (Black townships in Cape Town) and they are very different from Ocean View," another student reported.
The way of life in Ocean View is slow and relaxed; any excuse for a good party is seized upon with delight. When the newest group of exchange students rolled into the small seaside town, the host families made sure that they were given a genuine Ocean View welcome: day-long braais and parties that last long into the night.
It's always good to experience something different from one's ordinary lifestyle when abroad. The favelas of Brazil are a popular tourist attraction, showing a different face to one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Places like Ocean View offer the same insight into Cape Town and South Africa, places which are often shrouded in sometimes misleading commercial facades.
With all of the students having safely returned from their Ocean View homestays, the stories will start rolling in thick and fast. Be sure to catch all of them online.
Remy Ngamije is a student from the University of Cape Town.