As the local song goes, “Welcome to Cape Town, let’s see you smiling!”
Cape Town warmly welcomed 70 of our Development Informatics students last week and has been the home to both them and to me for the last five days. With another five days to go on our #GDIFieldwork experience here, this half way point seems a good time to reflect on the experience so far.
Dr Jaco Renken, Lecturer in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Development, has pulled together a wide-ranging and inspirational fieldwork trip which has so far shown students at first hand how ICT, data management and strong leadership within organisational management can work across settings ranging from Cape Town’s Teraco Data Centre, Cape Town City Council and Khayelitsha Hospital.
All nestled within clear sight of Table Mountain, these organisations and the professionals, communities and townships are very diverse and have been making a real impact on our students as they consider their future studies and working lives.
Chatting with students whilst also out here experiencing Cape Town as a first timer, I’ve heard how impressed they are by the difference excellent digitisation and data management within the hospital we visited seems to have had in impacting lives for the better and aiding development work.
Fieldwork is an important time in every student and researcher’s life. It’s about reigniting passions, discovering new ones and – on this particular trip – realising each student’s own possibilities by pushing personal boundaries to new places.
Not wanting to miss out on the excitement, I have been discovering my own potential too as we all joined forces together for a hot, steep, achey but awe-inspiring climb down the mighty Table Mountain yesterday. With all students down in just over 2 hours and having acquired “Table Mountain legs” (a term affectionately created by previous GDI walkers who experienced a leg-to-jelly effect post climb!), it was certainly a personal highlight and a significant moment in life for many who had never attempted such a challenge before.
So let’s see what our ICT visits in Cape Town brings tomorrow. But if we can climb down Table Mountain, surely we can keep learning and innovating new ways to address global inequalities by using information technologies to bring about positive change to the lives of those in this city and far beyond.