South Africa

Geraldine Jamieson

senior process engineer at imec, Leuven, Belgium

Geraldine Jamieson
“It’s crucial to discuss mental health, show respect, and kindness in all settings, particularly diverse ones, as everyone far from home misses their loved ones.”

Exploring a land of indigenous charm

Geraldine Jamieson arrived in Leuven, Belgium, to join an imec spinoff. In 2002, she became part of imec and worked as an etch technologist. Now she is a senior process engineer working on plasma dry etch. Her life has taken her on a journey through South Africa, Namibia, Australia, England, and Belgium.

Geraldine’s dynamic childhood

Frequent moves across South Africa marked Geraldine’s youth due to her father’s job as a builder. Born in the small town of Vereeniging, she grew up in a multicultural family with English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Australian, and American roots. Her early years in Kempton Park, a town close to the airport, where watching flights became a popular pastime. In her teens, Geraldine relocated to Pietermaritzburg to attend an all-girls high school before pursuing a master’s degree in Physical Chemistry at the University of Natal. Later she taught physical science at Wartburg High School and then at Montebello High School, a school for Zulu girls.

krugger national park - a dazzle of zebras
Krugger National Park - A dazzle of zebras
geraldine jamieson header
Cape Town city and Table Mountain

Afterward she moved to Namibia, where she became a lecturer in physical chemistry at the University of Namibia. The arid landscapes of the country, with their vast open spaces, transformed her perspective on rainfall. Although she had not been a fan of dark rainy days during her upbringing, her time in Namibia revealed the vital role rain plays in sustaining life.

Amidst the many transitions in her life, racket sports like tennis and squash gave Geraldine a sense of grounding. Engaging in activities like hiking and connecting with nature served as outlets for stress relief. Moving to different places and meeting people from all walks of life made her realize how important mental health is, even before it became a worldwide trend. Geraldine applauds initiatives like sports sessions, yoga, and other enjoyable activities that contribute to a healthy workplace environment at imec.

ndebele arts
Ndebele arts

Ndebele: an ode to heritage

Geraldine’s heart beats with an appreciation for Ndebele arts and culture. The Ndebele people are renowned for their dynamic artistic expressions, spanning vibrant house paintings to intricate beadwork. Among their defining traits are the captivating, geometrically patterned house murals, which carry decorative significance and profound cultural meanings. Ndebele women, passing artistic prowess through generations, craft these evocative works.

Beadwork stands as a cultural identity, with meticulously designed jewelry and garments reflecting cultural identity and personal flair. Rooted in their history, beliefs, and societal structures, Ndebele artistry weaves a visual language connecting past and present.

South Africa’s riches beyond safaris

Beyond its renowned safaris, South Africa offers a fusion of natural beauty, a rich history, and diverse cultural experiences. Geraldine finds great joy in exploring the Drakensberg Mountains, located in the eastern part of the country. Notable attractions in the area include the Giant’s Castle and the Royal Natal National Park amphitheater. Close to these mountains, one can uncover the enigmatic allure of Bushman paintings - ancient artworks that provide insights into the region’s indigenous heritage.

Must do

Hike to the aweinspiring amphitheater, witness the Tugela Falls cascading down the cliff face in the Drakensberg Mountains.

drakensberg - tugela falls
Drakensberg - Tugela Falls

For a more leisurely excursion, Geraldine highly recommends the Midlands Meander. This delightful journey unfolds through artisanal crafts, charming towns, and rolling hills. This scenic route stands as a testament to South Africa’s creative spirit, proudly showcasing the talents of local artists, potters, and weavers.

A particularly intriguing facet of South Africa’s landscape lies near the town of Hogsback, a place believed to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien during his stay. The lush greenery and tranquil surroundings are thought to have left their mark on his writing. This connection to literary history adds an extra layer of enchantment to South Africa’s already captivating landscapes. Whether someone is drawn to its natural wonders, cultural treasures, or the echoes of Tolkien’s imagination, South Africa extends an invitation to embark on a remarkable journey of exploration and discovery.