A trip to Robben Island 2021

As a first under the COVID-19 pandemic, a trip out for our Matriculants was on the cards.

With the arrival of COVID-19, an already packed and pre-planned academic year had effectively been brought to a halt.

Within all the wonders planned for the year of 2020, one very special outing was planned for our grade 11 group. However, the outing could not be carried out, due to preventative measures under COVID-19 that limited our abilities to venture beyond the confines of the school grounds.

As 2020 moved ahead, the Tourism department decided to take on the initiative to attempt a COVID-19 regulated trip for the upcoming academic year of 2021. Thus, granting the grade 11s, who would become the current matriculants, a chance to venture out on their field trip.

With all measures put in place, it was only a matter of time, preparation, and a lot of patience.

As the new year dawned on us, we were struck severely as a nation. The deadly second wave arrived early within the year, which hampered our already reworked academic calendar. So once again an already difficult decision had to be taken on whether to cancel the planned outing for the Tourism department.

In the face of great uncertainty, the Tourism department lead by our very own Sister Flora, had decided that the trip had been planned a year in advance and that the girls were already prepared for the trip.

Finally, the day arrived, all plans had been geared towards an outing for our Matriculants.

14 girls accompanied by Sister Flora and Ms Candice Jackson, boarded the arranged means of transport and set out for their field trip.

In a COVID-19 friendly manner, all learners were to wear masks, sanitise and sit a meter and a half away from one another.

The Holy Cross team set out on their journey, all cheerful and excited for what awaited them at Robben Island.

The trip took our team from school all the way to the V&A Waterfront, upon arrival they boarded a fairy and set off towards their destination.

The fairy ride was rather simple, and nothing much had stood out as our team observed the natural beauty of what surrounded them.

Once they arrived at Robben Island, our team was sorted into groups which headed off as a unit to observe the main prison on Robben Island.

The most striking aspect of this entire journey was that as our team travelled within the different parts of Robben Island itself, the guide that had led our team was in fact an individual who had been a prisoner on Robben Island. This factor alone is what made the experience ever more so wholesome and satisfying for both learners and staff alike.

The learners and staff experienced the truth behind the reality of what prisoners had to face and the lives they lived while imprisoned on Robben Island. The guides reality and lived experiences are what brought a true sense of the hurt and suffering that these prisoners had to face and deal with daily.

The next aspect of the tour was to head towards Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell. This was a rather sombre moment for our team, especially since due to COVID-19 regulations they were only afforded a view from outside. This was followed by a tour via a section-by-section view, and detailed exploration of artifacts and historical pieces that were kept from the era when the prison was active.

The team geared up once again and headed off to see several other sites on Robben Island. The team was transported by bus to witness the sights of the quarry, graveyard and the two churches on the Island. The team could however not venture towards the lighthouse at this time.

As the tour ended, our team was afforded the opportunity to eat lunch at the former pub that was set up for the prisoners during the time the prison was active. After enjoying a wholesome and peaceful lunch, our team headed back via bus to the main prison and then via fairy back to the harbour.

The tour ended on a note of remembrance. The reminder of the horrific experiences that prisoners had to live through on Robben Island. As wells as being granted the opportunity to conduct a field trip for Tourism.

All in all, after a year where our learners were unable to conduct their field trip due to safety protocols for COVID-19 in 2020. The 2021 academic year lent itself more so to a favourable outcome for our learners and staff.

It cannot be said that Holy Cross does not aim to achieve the best for all our learners. Even during time of great uncertainty under the pandemic.

COVID-19 has truly lent itself to granting a new means of conducting field trips. Whilst always keeping safety in mind.

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