Prior to enrolling in this class, I always dreamed of going to a place like South Africa. I always saw the pictures of Cape Town and Table Mountain which displayed the natural beauty present in that part of the world. Before this class I knew very little about the extensive history behind the nation, and the racial discrimination which dominated the country’s society up until the 1990s.
During my time in this class, I have learned more about the history of South Africa than I could have ever imagined possible. I had always known about apartheid and what it stood for, but never realized the incredible opposition it faced from blacks who were being oppressed.
Many people know of the struggles of historical figures, such as Nelson Mandela, but do not have the extensive knowledge about his principles and leadership that I have gained through this course. This course has given me an even greater respect for Nelson Mandela and other apartheid activists. Their actions, although questionable at times, helped end a system of racism and oppression which plagued the nation for decades.
After learning about the details of apartheid and its policies, I am very interested to observe how things have changed in present-day South Africa. My expectation is that there will still be signs of racism present in today’s culture. In addition, it will be very interesting to see how the culture has changed from the times of apartheid described in both Mandela’s and Tutu’s books.
I expect that this trip will help me gain a new perspective on life and change the way I perceive many aspects of life here in the US. I expect to see poverty that is unfathomable for Americans that have not traveled abroad to third world nations. I expect that three weeks from today, as we prepare to leave South Africa, I will have seen things that I could have never imagined and had experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.