I am taking Learning Sustainable Community Development, which is a pretty hefty class (5 hours Monday and 7 hours Friday) that uses practical teaching work with children and theory to attempt to eradicate poverty and bring about community change in poor South African communities. The children I work with are in the fifth grade and some have learning disorders or personality problems due to malnourishment and living in abject poverty. So we teach them on Mondays, mostly physical education stuff and arts and culture. But the class is also about SUSTAINABLE development, so we do lots of reduce, reuse, recycle things with the children. But it is also not just about sustainable living as in terms of being good to the environment, it is also about producing sustainable relationships and economic practices and community ideals that will help boost this developing community.
This is not a class I am used to; there is alot of discussion and talking about feelings and not much math and science. But it puts alot of what I am doing at MSU in perspective: the role of engineers in society is to improve the quality of life and to develop solutions for the world’s problems. It is boring to sit up in a skyscraper and design a pump when you have no idea about the lives that pump has changed. But when you actually get down on the ground and see your work in action, see and interact anc form partnerships with the people it has changed, then you know you are doing a good job. It will make you a better engineer. Anyway that’s class number one!
I am also taking a photography class! It should be really fun, because we do a lot of practical assignments where we travel into Cape Town and the surrounding mountains on photography assignments, exploring along the way.
Finally, I am taking a HIV/AIDS class that is focusing on the role of the disease in a South African context. We learn alot about the biomedical facts , treatment and prevention, and social impacts of the disease. We also do some work in the community as well, designing prevention strategies and tools (like posters, or condom dispensers, simple things like that). That will be another cool class that will get me deeper into South African problems.
Sharks! I saw them. I did go shark cage diving, and there were sharks down there. BIG ones, and the biggest one we saw was only 3.5 meters. They get to 5+ meters!