Cultural Orientation Programme – Host’s Personal Reflection

Cape Town is said to be the most culturally diverse city in the world. I don’t know if this is true, but I am sure it ranks close to the top.

As a passionate traveller who thrives on getting to know other people and their culture, the Mother City seems the perfect place to build a multicultural circle of family and friends.

So what does mine look like after 6 years in this country? Well, it may be a mixture of English and Afrikaans South Africans topped with German and Canadian sprinkles, but all in all it is a 100% Western/European rooted bunch. Certainly very lovely! But not exactly what can be called a colourful variety of culture, let alone race.

It is extremely difficult to spend time with and get close to people from other social and racial groups and I have been experiencing this as a real void in my life that I have been longing to fill.

Regarding the extreme chasm that still prevails here between people of countless different backgrounds, it appears hopeless to wish that they will somehow manage to come together in understanding, tolerance and ideally support.

The only realistic way I see is to start with the future generation – with our children who have no concept of nationality, race, skin colour or social status. Our children whose minds are still open to welcoming everything new and different.

For me personally, the Scalabrini Cultural Orientation Programme is a unique and perfect opportunity for my and my programme partner Brigitte’s children to spend time with and get to know children from a completely different culture. I am hoping that – if we can keep it up – it will have a considerable and long lasting impact on their future attitude and behaviour towards people who are different from themselves.

And what is the best way for kids to learn – through fun and play of course!

No need for time to “warm up” to each other when there are jungle gyms to explore together at Greenpoint Park or marine creatures to discover at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Next time they will discover the SA Museum and Company Gardens together – once again full of enthusiasm and with complete lack of shyness, strangeness or prejudice.

As for Brigitte and myself – when we manage to exchange a few words in between watching our busy kids, we will never lack things to talk about. Mothers with kids of similar age will always connect – no matter how different their backgrounds.

Melanie Rabie, Volunteer Host, Cultural Orientation Programme


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