Lauren Glenn:  The Six Day Weekend

This weekend was one of the longest and busiest of my life. Each day seemed like it spanned 48 hours rather than 24! Every minute was filled with so many new and exciting opportunities and experiences!

Friday: This day began with school as usual; four classes and then tea time. But around noon, I left with the seventeen other students in the SLC [Stanford Lake College] chorus to go perform at the Earth Day Festival at Southern Cross School near Haenertsberg. None of us knew quite what to expect, but we were all quite surprised when we saw the school. Our van navigated through windy, dusty trails, around bushes and sun baked trees, until we finally arrived at a small market. There were plants, animals, bags, jewelry, and even trailers being advertised and sold. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to loiter; we quickly changed out of our uniforms and ran over to the small stage where we were to perform. This platform was barely big enough to fit the eighteen of us, but we shuffled and squeezed onto it and sang our tunes. After our performance, we watched some of the Southern Cross students’ presentations as well. There was everything from ballet to hip hop, spoken word ranging from feminine power to John the Baptist and even a poem about The Jabberwocky. This small show soon ended and we were invited to come back later that night to watch a few more performances.

When we returned, it was dark and the school seemed like it had come alive. The first presentation was of traditional dancing from one of the eleven language groups in South Africa. (I believe it was Zulu, but nobody knew for sure.) The dancers were wearing colorful beads and fabrics, leopard prints and multiple types of furs in very strategic places around their sweaty, hyper bodies. Through their dance they told stories of their history–speaking, singing, and acting out their heritage. I was just as impressed by the next group of performers; a group of around fifteen students stepped onto the stage with drums that were half their height. The teens began with effortless rhythms, tapping the drums as if they were trying to crack open a safe; but this simple style soon evolved into a ring of complex beats, taps, and hands reaching from one drum to the next. Of course, all of us from SLC were dancing around to the music. We were fueled by all of the energy popping through the night air.

Saturday: We spent the first half of Saturday sitting in the van, trying to get home. After the first two hours of driving back to campus our bus “lost its oomph,” as our driver described it, and we waited for another hour or a different bus to come fetch us. We arrived back at the school, and Reneilwe’s mother picked up both me and Mihaela (an exchange student from Germany). Mihaela and her host, Makungu, were both going to stay the weekend with me and Reneilwe. Because the four of us still had a Saturday night with no plans, we went out with a few of the other exchanges and their hosts. In all there were ten of us; me and Reneilwe, Mihaela and Makungu, Michael and Khanya, Alexa (from Canada) and Kate, and Liam (from New Zealand) and KG. After watching “Warm Bodies” at the cinema, we ate a Californian pizza at a restaurant nearby. We then proceeded to stroll out of the restaurant, walk fifty feet to our left, and go straight into the restaurant next door for dessert. The night ended with a lot of laughs and some ice cream on Khanya’s face!

Sunday: The day before, Reneilwe and Makungu had told me and Mihaela that they had a surprise for us on Sunday, but we would have to wake up pretty early to get to it. So at six o’clock in the morning we all filed into the car and drove for three hours to Johannesburg. Between short naps and listening to music, Mihaela and I kept asking and guessing about where we could possibly be going. The mall, a show, a museum? We finally arrived at a large sign that read, “GOLD REEF CITY” in sparkling sun-lit letters, framed by winding rollercoasters and teenage screams. So we spent the day at a theme park! There was almost nobody there; the longest time we waited to get on a ride was only about five minutes! We twisted around the Anaconda, got shaken in the Jozi Express, and spun around and around on the UFO. By the end of the day, we were all dizzy and stumbling back to the car to get home. On the way back we stopped at the mall for food. Since I had been missing food from home, I bought myself some tuna maki from a take-away sushi restaurant. Reneilwe and Mihaela went to a Chinese restaurant just across the food court and Reneilwe tried chow mein for the first time! Let’s just say that we won’t be taking her to Panda Express when she comes to the California.

This week has started out very well. Make sure to check in next week, I will be blogging about the Round Square Regional Conference!