Campus News

Cape Town Diary: September 1

Story posted September 05, 2001

Cape Town Diary: September 1.

Possibly the most stunning aspect of this trip is the accessibility we have had to the art community in Cape Town. I am enrolled in Professor McGee’s "Arts of the Resistance" course, and her "Contemporary South African Art" class — both have provided me with the opportunity to meet and speak with local artists, political leaders, and cultural critics. This is a rare opportunity to learn directly from South African people who are engaged in artistic careers, and this is a privilege that I have certainly not had access to at Bates.

Last Wednesday night Lionel Davis — former political prisoner at Robben Island penitentiary, artist, and current Director of Education at the Robben Island Museum — came to our CBB center and to speak. Davis addressed an audience comprised of other local and visiting artists, students from Isilimela High School in Langa (whom some of us work with twice a week on community related projects), CBB staff, host families, directors of artistic organizations, and students from the "Arts of the Resistance" class. The diversity of this audience lead to an engaging question and answer session after Lionel Davis’s lecture, and reminded me, once again, how much the uniformity of the CBB campuses limits the scope of knowledge we will leave with when our four years are up.

Besides the lecturers who have come to our center, the two classes spend a good deal of time outside the classroom visiting local studios, museums, gallery openings, and the streets of Cape Town looking at local graffiti dedicated to those who were killed in the struggle for the democratic liberation, as well as other types of outsider art. To get out of the classroom and onto the “streets” has been an invaluable experience so far, and I imagine it will continue to be for the remainder of our stay. There is no substitute for the more traditionally academic aspects of our educations, but at the same time academic reading and writing shouldn’t be mistaken as a suitable substitute for actual first hand interactions. So if there are any professors reading this, get your students out of the classroom more often — in four years at Bates, I haven’t once been required to make a trip anywhere other than the library to complete my work.

Cape Town is a very interesting place, and I would encourage people to go on this trip. However, when you come here, try to remember that you aren’t in Maine anymore, and regard your white privilege with a little more delicacy than you are forced to at home. South Africa’s history demands that you do so.

Anonymous Bates College student, Class of ’01

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.
Cape Town Diary: August 15. By Philip Drake.
Cape Town Diary: August 20. By Dana Kramer.
Cape Town Diary: August 20. By Noah Lambie.
Cape Town Diary: August 24. By Brendan Ferriter.
Cape Town Diary: August 27. By Katie Spirer.
Cape Town Diary: August 27. By Laura Bilodeau.
Cape Town Diary: August 31. By Kristen Heim.

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