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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa

Highveld Winter

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 The Highveld in winter is not on the list of South Africa’s most beautiful places to see. Hard brown grasslands, the faint smell of fire lingers in the dry air. However, growing up this became a place I was forced to love. Winter vacations spent visiting my Gran and other family in the south of Joburg, we didn’t a choice but to find things to like about this holiday destination.

This past weekend I finally had a chance to spend some time out of the city. On Saturday morning, a friend and I headed out to Klipriviersberg nature reserve. Not too far away from the endless highways and traffic, I was reminded of all the things I found beautiful about the Highveld as a child. Here are some photos from our walk:


Written by BiancaZAR

June 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Is South Africa a Safe Place to Raise Children?

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The divide between rich and poor in South Africa is one of the main reasons why we are still so segregated today. These socio-economic inequalities make it more difficult to address issues in our country.  

Situated only 15km just outside of Johannesburg, Alberton, is a suburb on the East Rand of Gauteng. Like most suburbs in South Africa there is an economic hierarchy with the township and boomed off enclosure being only five kilometers away from each other.

I’m working on a documentary project about if South Africa is a safe place to raise children or not in reference to the political economy issues of our country. Alberton will be the area in focus. Here are some photos from my pre-production research trip in the area.

Written by BiancaZAR

February 25, 2010 at 5:43 am

Swine Flu on Ulleungdo can’t be blamed on the foreigners

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Yes that’s the truth. Despite what many Koreans think, swine Flu on Ulleungdo can’t be blamed on the foreigners as there are only two of us and we don’t leave the island as often as the Koreans do. So if there is a major outbreak, it’s not our fault.

I’m grateful to have a somewhat easier life on Ulleungdo than most English teachers in Korea. At least I try and see it that way. With only two of us English teachers, the Koreans don’t really have anyone to compare me with. Nonetheless, this also means that I am sometimes assumed to be American and not recognized as South African.

With swine flu causing mass panic and chaos in Korea, we are definitely better off than the mainland. There have only been three rumoured cases here and these are just rumours. No one is confirming it.

This article on Road Junky details how swine flu in Korea has been blamed on foreigners. There is a lot of truth to this piece as even here I was quarantined after my summer trip to Cambodia. At one of the schools where I work I’m the only teacher who gets a temperature check along with all the students. I only realized this was strange after reading the article.

As much as I detest Arirang TV for all it’s fake, bubblegum, propaganda of how it’s important to accept foreigners for Korea to become a globalised society I can see the need for this kind of public social broadcast.

On the other hand it’s a little misplaced on Korea’s major English channel which is most likely watched mainly by foreigners anyway. Surely it would be more effective if it were in Korean on one of the Korean channels like KBS?

I think being on Ulleungdo can at least help Koreans here to realize that we aren’t all dirty, disease ridden bad influences on their children’s lives. We are fortunate to be able to get to know our students and some of their parents fairly well. I hope this will at least make a small difference.

Written by BiancaZAR

November 13, 2009 at 1:54 am

A Glimmer of Hope at the Killing Fields

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I haven’t written anything about my trip to Cambodia in August because I’ve been really busy. It’s probably too late to write now but I just had to share my favorite photo from the trip with you.

Fleeting Beauty at the Killing Fields, Phom Penh, August 2009.

Fleeting Beauty at the Killing Fields, Phom Penh, August 2009.

On our first day in Phnom Penh we went to the Killing Fields and it was quite a tough visit. Walking around the mass graves, seeing bits of bones still in the sand was more than depressing. We were emotional and I wondered about our guide’s own experience of this tragedy, if all his family had survived.

We had just walked past the baby killing tree. The Khmer Rouge used to swing babies from their feet, knocking their heads against the hard bark to kill them.

This was too much to comprehend and we stopped for awhile. I was looking at one of the signs at the stylized Khmer script and a dragonfly came and rested on the edge of the sign for a few seconds.

Here was something alive and beautiful in this place filled with dark memories. Even though it was fleeting it filled my heart with hope. After experiencing a tragic history, it’s important to look forward and try to see the light and be positive.

Growing up in South Africa has taught me this. Everyday we are bombarded with bad news and it’s difficult to try and be positive about the future under all this.

Reflecting on our trip, I have to say that this photo represents my impression of Cambodia. A sad and tragic past hangs like a dark cloud over the country with glimpses of beauty and hope hidden in the shadows. You need to look hard to find it.

Written by BiancaZAR

October 24, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Korean career women still left out of the “boys club”

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A close friend of mine is worried she will lose her job next year. This is despite the fact that she has been in that position for more than five years. Nevertheless her employers (a national company) may decide to terminate her employment as it is easier for them to higher a new person on a contract basis rather than employ her as permanent staff.

While I understand this is a common problem around the world, she is concerned about not being able to find another job. This friend is the only woman in her office, making the fact that she has continued to do her job successfully for so many years a mighty achievement. I wonder how long a man working in an office full of women would last. Read more…

Written by BiancaZAR

October 20, 2009 at 11:14 pm

NightWalkingTruths Explained

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Haengnam seaside walk at night. Ulleungdo, June 2009

Haengnam seaside walk at night. Ulleungdo, June 2009

One Durbanite. Six months. An island between South Korea and Japan. Teaching English. Thinking about home and the journey to wherever that is. NightWalkingTruths (NWT) is the umbrella under which all my sudden mental object formations (thoughts) about South Africa, Ulleung Island (South Korea) and everything in between fall under.

I have been trying to come up with a blog name since a few weeks before I came to the island. advises that the name of your blog should: describe what it is about, be easy to remember and equal the domain name, of course. These tips didn’t help me as I couldn’t put into specific words what my blog was literally going to be about. It was easier to make a list of what the blog is not going to be about. How was I going to fit all these expectations into one name? I was stuck.

The answer came to me my first night on Ulleung Island (Ulleungdo). I walked along the harbour shore, listened to the howling wind and felt salty drops of ocean spray from the waves crashing against the jagged black rocks.  Where was I? This felt like a place of true inspiration where my mind was assimilating all the tiny grains of black sand ideas that exist in my universe. All lumped together under this mountain that is an island.

As I walked in the dark with a smile on my face, I felt liberated embracing the freedom of the night walk. My mind started tickling these ideas and this is what I came up with:

NightWalking: advancing in life, synthesizing dreams and fears, realising opportunities and searching for light in the darkness. A journey in search of liberation and freedom in the sense of living in a place where you can go for walks at night, where you are safe,  where people aren’t starving and can work to support their families.

My journey is from Durban to Johannesburg (where I hope to move to in 2010) via South Korea. Usually we are advised not to walk the streets at night looking for answers yet that is when they appear. This is exactly what happened and so here I am, on this page, for you to read. Hopefully you will find NWT easy to remember…

Written by BiancaZAR

June 14, 2009 at 5:09 pm