Archives For America

vintage+Chevy+BelAirEven though he returned almost three weeks ago, I’m still parsing the experience of Mtuseni’s visit. There is a lot to digest and try to understand — along with continuing fallout that currently has us at loggerheads like never before. I do believe my 20-year-old is finally turning 15, emotionally if not chronologically. Am I ready for the battles and pushback ahead? I don’t know. I’m not looking forward to it, that’s for sure. But if this is the necessary psycho-dynamic that must play out for him to become a man — and which he missed having no father around for most of his teenage years — then I guess I’ll strap on my whitewater gear and ride these churning rapids. As I’ve said before, I hate carnival rides!

In the meantime, the New York Times posted an interesting Room for Debate feature this weekend offering different perspectives on the future of South Africa and its economy. I found it surprising that none of the primary contributors addressed the issues of poor education and lack of Internet access — two issues I have described frequently here myself. I added my comments to the discussion. Check out the feature for some perspective on the challenges facing the country.

Source: New York Times

Click to access discussion. — Source: New York Times

Bhekani's Views

In my 13 days stay in the US, I can recommend some of the best activities to do in the historical city of Boston. The best-ever thing is the view of the whole city from the top of the Prudential building. It also has almost all sort of information relating to the city history, sports and entertainment.

Prudential+Tower+Boston

Boston+skyline

Boston+sports+teams

The second thing I enjoyed is the New England Aquarium. It was recently reopened after reconstruction of the main tank. This was amazing that divers could get in at the top of the tank and feed their diverse ocean species. But unfortunately for me they didn’t have bigger sharks.

Bosotn+aquarium+tank

Boston+aquarium+tank

Boston+harborThere is a saying that “if in Rome, do what the Romans do,” so I took that as a potential Bostonian. I went on and got myself something with a B, which represent their city’s baseball team, the Red Sox. Everywhere I went people…

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Post-gym MonsterMtuseni has been back home in SA now for a few days. I’ve spent the time recovering from structural exhaustion. (Trying to be the world’s greatest host/tour guide and on-the-spot parent to a culture-shocked 20-year-old kid with the emotional capacity of a 15-year-old — in the midst of a five-day, 90+ heat wave with someone who avoids the beach because of a rural Zulu belief that going in the ocean makes you sick — well, that takes a lot out of you.)

I’ve also needed this time to step back and process the visit, to remember things we did and said and to make sense of an experience that was filled with fun, frustration, revelations and mutual learning. I’ll be writing posts the next couple weeks to share experiences and thoughts; there is too much for just one long post.

One interesting point is comparing this visit with my trip to meet Mtuseni in Johannesburg last year. I was so focused on trying to figure out the country and be safe and absorb the cultural differences that I had less head space to focus on him. Because I was in my home comfort zone for this visit, I was able to pick up on more subtle things. Plus, he continues to be more open with me as the years pass.

Sometimes he would explain something on this trip that put things into clearer perspective from our early days. It was like finding a long-lost puzzle piece that, when put in context, revealed the big picture. Many times I found myself thinking, “Aha. Now I see why that was a problem three years ago.” This relationship with Mtuseni is not just like peeling the layers of an onion; it’s like some ancient Chinese maze where you keep circling back to the beginning to reach the center, with many twists, turns and dead ends. Maybe I should get an Indiana Jones hat!

One issue that Mtuseni struggled with here was what he called his”celebrity” or “VIP status.” The people I introduced him to all knew his story and were excited to meet him. For a kid who said he had an “ignored life” before we met … who is considered inconsequential and nearly invisible by many in his country based on his skin color and extreme poverty … it was nearly unfathomable to Mtuseni that all these “older white people” would be interested in him and what he has to say, and are rooting for his success. He couldn’t comprehend it and he didn’t know how to react. But he told me today that the experience makes him feel more mature at home, and he’s ready to work hard and make some changes. He’s been processing too!

So that’s a good start for him, and for the trip recap. More to come…

Boston + Charles + biking + travel + duck boat

Bike ride along Charles River

Boston + Newburyport + harbor + travel

On Newburyport Harbor

Boston + Newbury Street + tapas + cafes + travel

Mtuseni’s first taste of tapas (alas, no sangria for him!)

 


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B

Too Fast

July 9, 2013 — 1 Comment

IMG_0284 Mtuseni and I head back to New York this morning — and he flies home to Joburg tomorrow. We managed to pack in a lot of activities and sights on the visit, but still many things are unchecked on my list. Somehow he became obsessed with Red Sox gear (I don’t wear it and am only a baseball fan in October). But he needed a “Boston B” on his head to feel like he fit in the city.

A lot of experiences and revelations and learning for both of us. More to come after I return… to an empty house without that squeaky voiced, lilting South African accent and the kid I adore that comes with it.DSCN0735

 

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