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This week felt more or less the same as the last. The weather was colder and there weren’t too many sunny days. My daily routine is starting to feel repetitive. Every day I wake up at 7:45am, lay half-awake in bed for 15 minutes, then frantically rush to be ready to leave by 8:15am. This means I haven’t had breakfast at our guesthouse in a while. We are dropped off at work about 25 minutes early each day (thanks to my wonderful colleagues at Scalabrini), so my coworker and I have time to grab an iced coffee most mornings.

At work we just started a new assignment doing interviews for the Worker History Project at SACTWU. It’s been an interesting experience. We’ve had the opportunity to meet in-person with a few retired factory workers, all of whom have been more than willing to share their experiences with us. Hearing their stories has made me more aware of the privileges I’ve been afforded in life. It’s also made me appreciate the value that trade unions provide workers.

I’ve been in South Africa for about a month now. When I arrived, I’d say I was a believer in capitalism. Coming here, and specifically working at a trade union, has forced me to reconsider the government’s role in the economy. I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely changed my view on capitalism, but I can now respect another important responsibility of governments: to secure jobs and opportunities for their citizens. In South Africa, capitalism and globalization have not produced the same economic results for people like they have in the US (as reflected by an absurdly high youth unemployment rate).

Continuing with my daily routine, I’ve been getting lunch every day with a fellow staff member at SACTWU. He’s been nice enough to show me his favorite restaurants and markets close to our office. Though he is much older, and from a completely different world than me, I feel like he was a lot like me in his younger days. From conversations with him, I feel like I’ve gotten a better understanding of the South African outlook on both life and politics.

After work, I go to the gym down the street from our bnb. On days that we have a reflection session or group dinner, I skip the gym and try to grab a meal before. In the evenings, I go to Long Street most nights. After three weeks in Cape Town, however, I’ve grown quite sick of Long Street. It’s way too touristy and somehow I keep seeing the same people. Next week will hopefully consist of nights spent exploring other, more unfamiliar parts of the city.