Good conversations make good neighbours

Our Warden told us that when people get sick they called him to visit them in hospital because they didn’t have anyone else. How can you live in a res with hundreds of other students and not have a single friend? #‎HowSway‬

When I arrived at UCT, I was fortunate enough to get a roommate that I was already friends with because we went to high school together. We had different schedules but we (well… mostly she) would make sure that everyday at 18:30, we had dinner together. We also had other friends, old and new, that we would have dinner with. We even had a whatsapp group.

This may seem like a random thing to write a status about but I can’t stress the importance of that group in our lives. If someone couldn’t make it to dinner they had to let us know. If someone was writing an evening test and needed us to make a sandwich for them then we would. If someone was MIA at 18:25, we’d go look for them in their room. It was the members of that whatsapp group that came to my rescue when I was trapped in the bathroom for an hour.

Dinner was that one meal of the day in which we could all catch up, talk, vent and listen. It was the one time of the day that we dedicated to each other. When I was sick for a long time, the same group would make sure that I was alive and regularly check up on me. The dinner group lasted for two years.

Second tier residences are different because there isn’t a dining hall. Our dinner system needed to adapt a little. I was squatting illegally for an entire semester but I made sure that everyone in the court knew me (this became quite useful when I needed people to let me in and out of res). I would greet everyone and also ask them about their lives and make a genuine effort to get to know them. Even though I wasn’t supposed to be there I wanted people to know that they didn’t have any reason to mistrust me.

I always had dinner with someone (this is probably because my cooking skills are on 0). I would invite people over for dinner too and Kevin or Nwabisa would do the cooking and they would invite me over (best part). If I didn’t see someone for a few days I would knock on their door to check up on them. I would ask other people if they had seen them. Aunt Linda, the wonderful lady who cleans our court, stressed the importance of knowing our neighbours. She would also keep an eye on us and if she didn’t see someone for a long time she would ask me to check up on them. She knew everybody and their baes too. She even knew which pots belonged to who. She really cared about us.

Court IV (well level 1 and some special people upstairs) was literally its own community. We didn’t always get along but we knew each other and if people needed something, best believe we would be there to help each other out.

I know that res may seem like a lonely place but I have found that if people force themselves out of their comfort zones and take the chance to get to know their neighbours it doesn’t have to be so awful.

People in 1st tier reses, form a dinner group on whatsapp. Keep track of your friends. People in 2nd tier reses, go borrow some milk from next door. Get to know your neighbours. People living off campus, eish I’m not sure how to tackle that one yet but I am sure you could also borrow some milk 😀 . We cannot allow people to suffer in silence or for their cries to fall onto deaf ears. We’re in this struggle together ‪#‎Sisonke‬



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