Campus News

Cape Town Diary: August 15. By Philip Drake, Bowdoin College í01

Story posted August 15, 2001

I find myself in the month of August in Cape Town, South Africa for my very last collegiate semester (Mother and Father, I swear). And what an interesting semester it has been thus far. I donít think that I have been in such a structured program as CBB Cape Town is since I was in middle school. A regimented program is not necessarily a horrendous thing, there is the good and the bad: in the sixth grade I learned to play the recorder, in the seventh grade I got my first kiss (oh, sweet Laura), and in the eighth grade I was gangly and had a whole slew of pimples. The good and the bad, you canít have one without the other.

This past weekend Professor Jim Webb loaded up the environmental history class in a VW bus, cranked some Otis Reading and Bob Marley, and showed us his Mario Andretti inspired driving skills as we embarked on a weekend of cave painting viewing in and around Citrusdal and Clanwilliam two hours north of Cape Town. Jim brought along the wife and kids who were more than thrilled to trudge through the bush in search of some of the oldest artwork on this planet. I was too.

The countryside was brilliant, sprawling hills with impressively majestic mountains all around us. It is nearing spring here and the budding flowers would make most grandmothers heartsí skip a beat. The cave paintings were quite neat; the pictures gave us insight into what life must have been like on the Cape Peninsula for the original inhabitants. We made a stop at Elandís Bay, which some may note was visited in Bruce Brownís Endless Summer II. That eerie foam hasnít gone anywhere.

Professor Julie McGee has taken her Contemporary South African Art class on the beat and into to various galleries and lectures in Cape Town. Highlights have included the Community Art Project (CAP) a very cool grassroots school that teaches art to interested and talented members of the community. CAP has furthered the career of many aspiring and internationally acclaimed artists who werenít privileged enough to receive formal training at a young age. We have seen awesome pieces from a wide range of South African artists, white and black, in the galleries of Cape Town.

A scintillating lecture that brought the tweed jackets out was held at the University of Cape Town by world famous South African sculptor Gavin Younge, who inspired us all to toast our sherry glasses high to him and shiver in jittery delight. Perhaps our coup de grace as a class will happen in October as we curate a show in the Langa Township for local black artists. Iíll speak more of this as time progresses, but it promises to be incredible and to showcase local artists to a community that doesnít necessarily get many opportunities to see art in their own back yard.

Twice a week I work with youngsters teaching them environmental education in a nature reserve in Cape
Town. Itís quite fun, my main objective is to give these kids an appreciation for the amazingly diverse environment in the Cape area.

I have two courses at the University of Cape Town, but quite honestly I havenít had enough time to do any work for these classes. If I did, I may jeopardize my health and sanity. Even the Credit/Fail system at Bowdoin may not be enough to save me.

I have purchased a surfboard and a wetsuit and have begun my quest to sit atop the podium at the Pipe Line Classic next to the likes of Slater, Occy, Rick Cain, and Jeff Spicole. Surfing has been my balm here: when things get hectic around school and it seems like my whole trip is being spent on a leash and in the CBB center, surfing has given me the opportunity to see the coastline, meet new folks, and participate in a sport that is awesome. I have seen big waves, small waves, shoaling waves, and no waves; somehow it just never seems to matter. My soul is constantly stirring. The ocean is peaceful and my bobbing up and down in it always gives me a new perspective on my privilege and challenges here in Cape Town. Now, if only I could have just a little more free time... Ciao from the southern tip of Africa.

- Philip Drake, Bowdoin College Ď01

Additional information on the Cape Town program is at CBB Cape Town
Other Cape Town Diaries:
Cape Town Diary: July 3. By Julie McGee
Cape Town Diary: July 14. By Julie McGee
Cape Town Diary: July 27. By Kristen M. Heim
Cape Town Diary: July 27. By Rachel Meiklejohn
Cape Town Diary: August 6. By Paul Min
Cape Town Diary: August 6. By Heather Finn.
Cape Town Diary: August 10. By Chris Reigeluth.
Cape Town Diary: August 13. By Kathryn Spirer.

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