My first week in Cape Town was a complete blur, but by the end of the second week, this city was already starting to feel like it was becoming my home base. On the Saturday of my second week, my cohort got the opportunity to go to the township of Langa, which was about a 20-minute drive out of Rondebosch, where we stay at the CIEE Global Institute. When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by all of the students of the cooking school, who often traveled from all over South Africa as far as the Eastern Cape to attend the rigorous 6-month program. The head chef introduced us and established the rules of the day, including that we must try everything (dietary restrictions taken into account, of course)! All of the CIEE students put on hairnets and aprons and were put straight to work!
During the class, we made many different courses and cycled through separate stations in order to complete all of them. I got to make my own bread roll over the open fire, as well as being stationed specifically on learning how to make samp and beans (which ended up delicious). My final plate consisted of bread, stir fry, samp and beans, rice, salad, and malva pudding - everything was phenomenal. This cooking class was distinctly different from any other cooking class I have done in a foreign country - we were truly indoctrinated into the culture of the (majority) Xhosa people teaching us - they taught us their language, dance moves, songs, food, and even painted our faces with traditional patterns. They truly wanted us to learn, and cared that we got an authentic experience, all while showing us what it means to be in their element as aspiring professional chefs.
The send-off we received from the women who led the class was unlike anything I had ever seen. As we left the building, the women broke into song and dance and invited us all to match their energy by joining in. They showed a sense of unity and community that, by the end of the class, I felt like I was a part of. As we got onto the bus and started to drive away, the women kept singing and dancing and followed the bus as we exited the town, waving and yelling goodbye. That sense of warmth and love for the CIEE students from those Langa women is something that I will never forget, and was certainly the highlight of my trip so far.