Material Girls

Last week, students who are working with the Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development went back to Lenasia to videotape some interviews and meet with Sima, the non-governmental organization’s assistant director. That day, the challenge was not the dependability of technology but how to respond to questions posed half-jokingly by Nisaa’s clients—for which I didn’t have an answer. Some women asked if we would give them … Continue reading Material Girls

One Day At A Time

“One day at a time and it is possible for them to make it.” These words, spoken by Mama Thandie Mfene at a Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development office outside Johannesburg, refer to the female victims of domestic violence here in South Africa. I’ve spent most of my time interviewing students at the University of the Witwatersrand in the comfort of campus cafes. But, yesterday, … Continue reading One Day At A Time

Finding My Color In The Rainbow

I’ve never felt more Indian in my life than during my time in South Africa. Indian Americans usually experience positive discrimination: People assume we are intelligent, hard working and conservative. But not in South Africa. Apartheid targeted colored immigrants from all over the world. Only 30 years ago, Indians in South Africa experienced a level of blatant racism that I was aware of before I … Continue reading Finding My Color In The Rainbow

Talking To Strangers

Halfway through Rockbridge Report (beat reporting course) last term at Washington and Lee, Professor Kevin Finch encouraged us to do man-on-the-street interviews, a staple of TV news in which passers-by are asked to comment on anything and everything. Needless to say, this was the worst idea of the century. Man-on-the-street interviews are so painfully awkward and so incredibly unenjoyable. I tried and failed to do … Continue reading Talking To Strangers

Fighting The Good Fight

Today the Nisaa group got to show the Joburg Child Welfare and the Journalism groups a little bit of what we have been doing with the non-governmental women’s development organization we’ve been working with since we arrived in South Africa. When we got to the Lenasia office, things were a bit hectic. We showed Professor Locy and a few of our peers around and introduced … Continue reading Fighting The Good Fight

“Triggering” Distress Among Readers

The W&L journalism group sat in on a lecture today in an honors class at the University of the Witwatersrand for members of its student newspaper, the Vuvuzela. The lecturer, Professor Franz Kruger, gave a presentation to the class on ethics. He focused on the four pillars of ethical journalism identified by the Poynter Institute in Florida, as well as a test of public interest. … Continue reading “Triggering” Distress Among Readers

Finding Strength In Soil

Gardening was never something that interested me. But I think I’m going to try it, mainly because of what I saw at a domestic violence shelter operated by the Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development in South Africa. The women took so much pride in growing their own food. They reveled in telling us about what they grow. I learned about how the food they eat … Continue reading Finding Strength In Soil

Freedom To Drive

We spent today interviewing women who are victims of domestic abuse. Their stories deeply affected me as they talked about their partner’s abuse and how the Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development has helped them become stronger. One woman played down her own story of abuse, saying other women at the shelter had been through worse. Our group talked about it afterwards. We couldn’t believe her strength and … Continue reading Freedom To Drive

The Walls Can Speak

We visited the Origins Centre Museum and the Liliesleaf Farm, a national heritage site treasured in South Africa as a reminder of its history. At the Origins Centre, we learned the “Out of Africa” theory on the beginnings of early human civilization. The exhibits with casts of prehistoric skulls were used to explain that we share 99.9 percent of our DNA with the people of Africa. Visiting Liliesleaf … Continue reading The Walls Can Speak