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DELEEN & KATRIN . a friendship which lasts for decades on different continents

In the beginning of the Nineties when I was a teen, I stumbled upon some colourful pieces of paper decorated with a multitude of country flags from all corners of the world. They were application forms for international penfriendships. I got curious: Wouldn´t it be interesting to communicate with youth from all over the world and find out what life is for a girl of my age in South Africa? Some letters were exchanged in English, one single contact lasted until well after I finished school.

Fast Forward to 2003: Thanks to the Cape Town–Aachen partnership and in cooperation with my university, I received a scholarship for some months of research for a study in Cape Town. Finally we were able to organize a real meeting with my penfriend in person! And not just once, we met regularly during weekends, when Deleen`s husband was able to drive his small family from the suburb into town where I shared a flat with other students. While I was still studying, my friend Deleen had already married her big love, changed her religious beliefs plus her first name and family name, and was already mother of a little girl. Our life couldn`t have been more different at this stage.

Even though we hadn‘t met in person before, we felt never as strangers. We had shared our heartache when we were 15 and we knew so many details about each other, that in fact there were more things that connected us than things that could separate us – even though this seemed impossible from the outside.

Our families kept on meeting also after graduation from university, whenever we spent our holidays in Cape Town. A few years ago Deleen`s husband died suddenly and unexpectedly and only left behind his business as an auto-electrician. My brave friend worked hard to provide for her dutiful and intelligent girl and subsequently she graduated from high-school. We were there for them whenever times were especially rough.

We will continue to follow each other‘s path through life and we know we can always rely on our friendship.

Katrin Spangenberg

When I was about ten years old, I read Laurens van der Post’s „A Story like the Wind“. This epic novel which is set in front of the background of the old San myths and the vast landscapes of the Kalahari desert inspired me to read each and everything about Southern Africa I could get my hands on.

After high school I was finally free to move to South Africa to experience life and people in the new democracy. After a year of voluntary social work in Gauteng in a community for mentally challenged and extended backpacking through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa I got a new chance to live and work in Cape Town/Khayelitsha during my studies at Aachen university in 2003: a scholarship in cooperation with the Cape Town-Aachen partnership and the Institute for landscape ecology and planning.

During this time I was lucky to find some very good friends who help me to still keep a strong connection to Cape Town.

For many years I have been living in Munich with my husband and two sons. I am an architect specialized on temporary and exhibition architecture worldwide. In doing this I live my dream of working with and connecting with people from different continents and cultures.