After the ordeal of registering for classes and two weeks of waiting to hear whether or not we would be allowed into the Clinic, we were pretty thrilled to find out last Friday that not only were we in, but that we had been given the assignments that we wanted. Kate (one of the two Wisconsin law students) and I were assigned to the refugee clinic, and when we showed up to clinical hours on Monday, they told us to find a cubicle and go get a client from the waiting room. Not that we knew the first thing about South African refugee law, or even South African law. After being reassured that we only needed to figure out what the client's problem was, and a supervisor would do the actual advising, we got out first clients. The couple was from the PRC; the husband had obtained refugee status some years ago; after their recent marriage the wife moved here and was hoping to get permission to say in the country through her husband's status. After getting the gist of their story, we were waiting for the supervisor to show up and overheard them speaking in French. Kate, who is fluent in french, and I, who can understand about every other word, were able to get the rest of their story in french. Although we weren't able to give them the answer they wanted (she would have to apply separately for refugee status), it was a great start to the year.
Naturally, this morning we found out that we hadn't really been assigned to our first choice, and only one of us would be able to do the refugee clinic. Some of the clinic admins even thought that us Americans were trying to barge our way in by just showing up uninvited, even though we had been told to go there. Oh well.