Announcements : Photo Spotlight: Anna Alcaro
Announcement: Photo Spotlight: Anna Alcaro
Event Date: 09/15/2011
Photo Spotlight: "Exchange Rate"
Anna Alcaro, Cape Town, South Africa, Spring 2010
"I was one of the 13 flagship students to participate on the Parks and People: Cape Town South Africa Program, and as part of that we all became very accustomed to being flexible and going with the flow whenever the situation called for it -- and it did often! We lived on the nature reserve Dwesa-Cwebe.
Around the eighth week, we went to Bulungula, about fifteen km north of Dwesa-Cwebe. Bulungula is designed as a tourist attraction more than anything, but one that tries to engage local stakeholders, in this case, the local Xhosa people. So we went on a tour called The Women Empowerment tour, which basically walked us through the average day of a Xhosa woman.
On the tour, we got to see the community, and collect water, and grind maize, re-floor the house, and get our faces painted in the traditional Xhosa fashion-which is done by the Xhosa women to protect their skin from the sun. The lighter color is made from crushed limestone- the list of chores made me more sad than anything realizing how much women there are responsible for, and this takes away from their ability to go to school and do other things. It was ironic that it was called the women empowerment tour because it basically showed us how oppressed women there are. I started talking to the girl who's face I was painting, she was 19-years old and had a young son. She wanted to work at the tourist lodge as a tour guide so she could make money. I remember thinking how strange it was that she was younger than me, and she seemed so much more...together.
After this young women had completed our face decorations she realized that she didn't have a mirror so she looked at me and sort of gestured the paint outward as to ask if I would do it. I WAS SOOOOO EXCITED! I mean, this was their culture, not mine, and she asked me, in a sense, to be a part of that. I would say that was my favorite part of my whole trip.
That experience taught me the importance of finding