I was amazed by their interest in my culture
ESTA: You worked and lived for the last three month at the Ev. Stiftung Arnsburg Lich (Foundation Arnsburg). What are the differences between Lich and your home in Port Elizabeth?
Khuselwa Mxatule: First I must say that in Lich I had a great time filled with joy and happiness. Lich is very different compared to Walmer Township because it is small and very quiet. The community of Lich is based on the living standards that are derived by the country of Germany in general. People are more conservative and they would rather live their life without one trying to intervene in their businesses. In a way I liked that because nobody cares what one is wearing, drinking, eating, talking with, walking with, and listening to and so on...
In Walmer Township, everybody knows something about one another. People look through the windows just to see what are you wearing today, who are you talking to, what car she or he is driving, what are you drinking and everything about your life in general. It felt good in these 3 months to carry on with my life without worrying about gossip and rumors.
At the same time people are more loving and warm in my township in South-Africa and it is exactly this that makes them so curious and interested to know about everybody´s business. It felt like people don´t care about each other in Lich since they are not interested to know anything about each other.
ESTA: In PE you work with children from Walmer Township. Which targets will you achieve with them?
Khuselwa Mxatule: The enthusiasm to learn. I worked with children in Germany of the same age as the ones I work with in Walmer. I was amazed by their interest in my culture and to know about South Africa in general. I can´t wait to get back to SA and share with the group the motivation the German learners have had when it comes to learning about SA. This for sure will improve their attitude and motivation when it comes to learning about other countries and different cultures in general
ESTA: Which differences have you recognized between Social work in Germany and in South Africa?
Khuselwa Mxatule: Well, social working in Germany doubles the social working done in SA. Get me right, not that the social workers are lazy or don´t do their work in South Africa, but it´s part of a German lifestyle to put an extreme effort in every task. Good is not acceptable in a German working environment. Perfect is the goal to reach. It is not so difficult to reach perfect though because everything is well organized and structured. That makes it difficult to compare the social working done in South Africa because the whole country in general is far from reaching German level when it comes to organizing and structuring.
ESTA: What can German Social Workers learn from South African Social Workers and what can South Africa learn from us?
Khuselwa Mxatule: Both parties work according to the standards assigned to them by their states. It is totally different but I would say South Africans can learn the organizational skills and putting more effort on their work from Germany.
Germans could learn to be generous and the warmth from South Africans. To be supportive to foreigners. The smiles as well to brighten up their pretty faces could be a huge gain.
ESTA: What have you learned for your life from your international trip and your contact with other cultures?
Khuselwa Mxatule: It was the first time for me to be out of my home country. When I was appointed to come to Germany I didn´t even have a passport. Not to mention the application for my visa, flight booking, airport check in, flying, airport arrival, flight delay, re booking of flight .I had no idea how to carry on with that. Fortunately I had 2 supportive leaders from Masifunde and Foundation Arnsburg (Jonas and Reiner). They´d had been a great help on my trip. The Masifunde team as well has been a great help and they guided me up to the final stage.
These are the things that I would be able to carry on with next time on my own. It is not so common for youngsters in the township to know about these things even though they are not that difficult, but we are not exposed to them because travelling is not part of our culture. One needs to be old and rich to be able to travel for the first time. Fortunately for educated and privileged people get to access it while they are still young.
ESTA: Do you think intercultural work is important for young people and what does it mean for our partnership with Masifunde?
Khuselwa Mxatule: It is very important. The partnership between Masifunde and Foundation Arnsburg made a dream of a typical township girl like me from a poor area come true. It has been part of my dreams to go abroad since I was 11 years old. Due to my family's economic status I always knew that it is impossible to reach this goal. I always believed that this dream will come true but I never thought at this age and will be presented as such a great opportunity. It was very important for me to visit Lich and be part of the lifestyle here for 3months. I have learned so much from the social workers, staff and the children in general. I found the intercultural exchange very important as I was curious and keen to get to know the lifestyle and the typical behaviors that are expected and those that are no go in Germany. It was of course exciting to unveil those differences that make the culture of Germany. According to my opinion, Germany doesn´t have such a diverse cultural difference like South Africa but the rules, regulations and complications in everything in are what build the culture of Germany. I found it very interesting the way German people obey those rules and the way they handle the complication because if not...there are consequences to deal with.