Update: Scholastic Endeavors

It's been a while! The last post I wrote was about my term break travelling through Southern Africa, and a lot has happened since. Essentially, the IB continues to ramp up! I feel consistently frazzled, and it's a reminder of how I felt this time last year when I was working for a mayoral campaign that was in the last stretch of the campaign period. But honestly I'm more stressed now. Exams start next week and I've not begun to study. Everyone is overwhelmed. I think part of the issue lies in the fact that all the projects I have now are longer term ones - my extended essay, which I'm expected to spend a minimum of 40 hours on, my 20 page director's notebook, a 12 page bio research paper, a 20 minute Theory of Knowledge presentation. And that's on top of CAS and co curriculars and friends and sleep and sanity. This course is a lot. I haven't cried yet this term, but it's getting to that point. And I still have over one year to go! I'm sorry that…

Trains, Buses, and Kombis: 5 countries, 3 weeks (Or, an epic trek in which I defied popular expectations and opinions by evading death)

The moon was high over the hills of Swaziland when we left the house, and the babe (Swazi honorific for an older man - literally 'father.' Pronounced 'bah-bay') driving the taxi seemed as tired as we were. I was worried about how big my backpack was, whether it would fit into the kombi, whether we would be charged extra. Mbabane was sleepy-quiet when we arrived but some drunk teenagers stumbled by, sobriety beginning to arrive with the rising sun and cold morning wind.

By 6am, we had found a kombi to Joburg and had wedged ourselves and our bags into the back. We were joined by bags of flour and bottles of oil, and a good number of tired looking people. However, the kombi didn't actually leave until 10am, because it wasn't full enough. The trip was uneventful - it was faster than our school bus, and the seats weren't uncomfortable. When we got closer to the city, I climbed up to the front to ask the driver some questions.

"Babe, where does the route en…

Continental Exploration

Term has ended! Well, technically it ended a week ago but I've been busy sleeping, eating, and working. It's been nice. I've been staying with my friends Shantzie and Martín - they have link parents who graciously took me in as well for the week, and we've been spending the time working in the sunroom of the house, drinking alarming amounts of tea, and eating all the avocado toast we can stomach.

On Saturday, Shantzie and I, along with our friend Julia will set off on the next part of our term break. The plan is to visit 5 countries in 3 weeks!

We leave Mbabane early Saturday morning, arriving in Jozi by the afternoon. We'll buy groceries and get US dollars for travelling in Zimbabwe. That evening we take a bus up to the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, and spend the evening before travelling into Zambia to spend a few days. Then it's several buses and trains across Botswana before arriving in Namibia! We have several stops in Namibia, and we'll eventually …

Kamhlaba Cookbook

As I've noted in previous posts, the food at Waterford makes me deeply sad. Iceberg lettuce - previously something I would only consume if using a leaf for a lettuce wrap - now causes a great deal of despair and general melancholy. Pork chops were once something I would pan fry with caramelized apple slices, but now I can only think of the tough, blackened things served here. So I've been doing a great deal of cooking, assisted by my trusty mini fridge Alberta, my small pot that I bought at the thrift store in Vancouver for $7, and a small cache of condiments and other foodstuffs smuggled from the T&T grocery store back home.

So, for the sake of curiosity and hopefully future IB1s nutrition, I thought I'd talk a bit about food availability/recipes.

Maia's Noodle Stir Fry/Bastardised Lo Mein

To my delight, I was able to find very affordable 'Chinese noodles' in the instant noodle section. They're just wheat flour egg noodles, but I think they caused more…

Grahamstown Arts Festival

It took two days to get to Makhanda. It felt a lot longer. We put fifteen theatre and music students into a very small bus and drove from eSwatini to the Eastern Cape, and I think it was a more arduous trip than any ocean passage. I’ve developed some passionate thoughts about the relative merits of different petrol stations. We stopped for the night in Ladybrand and everyone, (even the Norwegian!) agreed that it was excessively cold. The next day we made it to Grahamstown/Makhanda and immediately headed to the box office to pick out some tickets for the next few days.
We were in town for the Grahamstown Arts Festival – the largest arts festival on the continent which runs for eleven days in the college town of Grahamstown (recently renamed Makhanda at the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, although in Xhosa, the town is called iRhini.) Makhanda is home to Rhodes University and a large number of schools, institutes, and museums. The town is also currently unde…

Space to Breathe (Plus Giraffes)

(This was written about two weeks ago but I've been without internet! I'll hopefully post soon about my time exploring the Makhanda Arts Festival.) 

It is often hard to get a chance to take a breath at Waterford. Life usually progresses at a frenetic pace and we have to run to keep up or risk getting run over. My friends and I were joking that there's no relaxation time - you're working or you're sleeping. It's a weird phenomenon here, that it's nearly physically impossible to relax, because if you're not concentrating on something, you fall asleep. If conversation flags a bit if you're spending time with someone, it's not unusual to just fall asleep on each other. Unintentional naps are a bit of an issue.

This past weekend, my friend from New Zealand invited me and another friend to spend the weekend with her link at a game reserve a few hours from the school. We were staying at a ranger's house and there were dogs, a shady lawn, a bench sw…

Bringing Dental Dams to WK

Today, Waterford welcomed visitors from the Swaziland Ministry of Health and Rock of Hope to hold a queer-specific sex-ed talk and provide some information about the HIV epidemic within eSwatini. Organizing this talk has been somewhat of a pet project of mine for a while. Last term, I got picked as one of the heads of Pride Week here. During the interview that last year’s heads held, they asked what ideas I had to bring to the event, and this was one of the main ones.
When it comes to sex-ed, WK mainly preaches abstinence. This is due to the fact that sex on campus is strictly banned, and with the new laws in eSwatini, sex under 18 is considered statutory rape. However, this becomes somewhat unrealistic when you shove 600 teenagers on a remote mountaintop in a high-pressure environment. I’m lucky to have been educated partly in Canada, where sex-ed, (at least in my province in British Columbia) is comprehensive, fairly inclusive, and begins at a young age and continues throughout a …