Friday, July 16, 2010

A Student View of Apartheid

Travel study trips to South Africa provide students with a first-hand perspective of a different country and also a society still coping with the effects of apartheid. Amy Hester has this report:

My name is Amy Hester, and I went to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa for three weeks in May 2010. While I was there, I took Cultural Anthropology and going to South Africa was an experience of a lifetime. The thing I noticed the most about South Africa is that the people there are so resourceful. They make trinkets to sell out of Coke cans and build their houses out of materials that Americans would consider garbage. The people did not have much, but they are thankful for what they do have. Many people do not have indoor plumbing, a yard for their kids to play in, or privacy from their neighbors, but they do not complain about their living situations. They accept what they have and make the best out of it. They do not depend on the government for unemployment checks, but instead learn a skill in arts or crafts to have a job selling their products. There are people in the streets everyday setting up their items for sell to make a living.

The effects of apartheid are still present and the effects are devastating to see. The houses were still in different sections and of very different quality. The houses are somewhat still separated by class, but also separated by income. The poor black Africans homes are made out of scrap pieces of metal and the roofs would be attached by cement blocks sitting on top of it so the metal pieces did not blow away. The rich white Africans have houses similar to the houses in America, and while I was there, I did not see one white person on the streets selling items for a job. South Africa has come a long way from apartheid, but still has a long way to go.

-Amy Hester
Volunteer State Community College

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