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UCEAP Alumni and Friends

My UCT Experience

by Nicholas Martinez

My experience at UCT has currently been one of learning, growing, and reflecting. While I have been at UCT, I continue to expand my cultural perspectives and my understandings of the world around me. I am pushing myself to all my limits whether it is hiking Table Mountain, engaging with course material in my Anthropology course, Nature, Science, and Democracy, or conversing with local students about issues they face at student-run colloquiums on campus. Also, I am able to explore the city of Cape Town and learn about the history, attend vibrant cultural events that I have never seen before, and eat delicious food not only from South Africa, but all over the continent. This has enriched my life in unimaginable ways and given me the opportunity to listen and learn about the experiences of the communities in South Africa.

 In addition to participating in events around the city and soul searching, I also attended a week long community event called Afrikaburn. This event is the result of the creative talent of a community of people who create a temporary society with art, a gifting economy, radical self-reliance, and radical self-expression. When I first arrived, I was greeted by a group of volunteers who gave me a giant hug and said “welcome home.” I felt like I truly was home because everyone was so willing to embrace me and make me feel comfortable in this new place. 

During the day, I was able to participate in talks about the earth and learn about ways in which society can transform itself with the help of us Burners. Also, I was able to explore the many different themed tents and be in awe of the structures that spanned across the Tankwa Karoo Desert. At night, I saw fascinating light fixtures and was able to dance all night long at the many stages. This experience opened up my mind and my heart to an ideology and creative space that cannot be explained. The journey to Afrikaburn was rough and nerve-wracking, but in the end I came out of it with a whole new understanding of community and I discovered a part of myself that I never knew existed. 

UCT, and South Africa in general, will always have a special place in my heart because it has allowed me to realize my potential. This experience has shown me that life is about having an open-mind and to always have the willingness to learn and be compassionate towards your fellow student and compatriot. With these new perspectives and a wider cultural understanding, I hope to incorporate this into my daily life and also use these tools in order to continue to grow within myself and within my community.

 

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