Daily Life Field Note

What is Daily Life Like? Cape Town, South Africa

Today, I had the opportunity to interview my resident advisor Thandeka. She prefers for us to call her T.K. She looks after me while I am studying here in South Africa at the University of Cape Town. A resident advisor is responsible for the safety and well-being of her residents in a college dormitory building.

She acts as a direct contact between me and my study abroad program coordinators.  Do you remember the meaning of ‘study abroad’?  She also assists in making my study abroad experience as interesting as possible through field trips and house programs that introduce South Africa’s ubuntu principles. Ubuntu means “I am, because we are; and since we are, therefore I am”. This is a very important saying in South African communities because they believe in the well-being of their neighbors.

Thandeka’s full name is Thandeka Fotoyi. She was born and raised in a township called Khayelitsha, which is located in the Western Cape of South Africa. Can you try to pronounce her township? She lives in a house given to after a special governmental act was passed after apartheid ended in 1994.  Apartheid was a period in the country of South Africa when the European and native Africans who live in South Africa were segregated, or separated.  It was very challenging. Nelson Mandela is a famous person who helped end it. Does it sound like anything you have learned about in Social Studies class?

Thandeka’s mother is single and heads her household. She has six siblings and one of those siblings is her twin sister! Do you know anyone who is a twin? Thandeka usually gets around town by a taxi mini bus in which I wrote about in the Transportation Field Note.

Thandeka prides herself on being as adaptable as possible when it comes to her style. She likes to wear good quality clothing. She also likes wearing traditional African clothing too!

In her free time, she said that she enjoys socializing with friends in her community and volunteering with youth. She likes to smile as much as possible. Thandeka is a Xhosa and English speaking South African. To say hello in Xhosa, you say ‘Molo’.  Try saying it!

Although she does not have a pet of her own, she loves animals. She especially loves elephants. She has not traveled in her life, but she would really love to travel to other countries once gets a job. She wants to be a lawyer and a great role model for her family. She is a hard worker and she wants to provide a better life for herself and her family.

If she could say anything to students in the United States, she would say: “Life is a gift!”  She never takes anything in life for granted and really cherishes the relationships she builds with her residents. This semester has truly been a learning experience for her as a resident assistant. This is her first time living with international students and sharing her personal space. Considering that she comes from a different way of life she says it is interesting getting to know all of the residents from all around the world and learning about their different cultures. In the beginning, she found it hard to live with girls who she thought were so different. Now, she sees that we have more similarities than differences.

What is your full name?

Thandeka Fotoyi

Where do you live? What is your house like?

I live in Khayletisha in the Western Cape of South Africa. I live in house given to me under the reconstruction and development plan.

What is your family like?

My family is headed by a single mother. I have 6 siblings and I am a twin.

How do you get around?

I travel by taxi

What types of clothing do you like to wear?

I like to wear good quality clothing and African clothing. I am flexible in the things that I like to wear.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to socialize with my friends and smile as much as possible.

What languages do you speak? How do you say ‘Hello’ in your language?

I speak Xhosa and English. To say hello in my language you say ‘Molo’.

Do you have pets?

No, I do not have any pets.

What do you do for work?

I am a Resident Assistant and a full-time student. I am also a volunteer and a mentor in my community.

Is there anything else you would like to say to the students in the United States?

I would like to tell the students in the United States that “Life is a gift”!

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