Today was the fourth day of the South Africa trip.
We started off by heading to the University of Pretoria to see and understand the cross cultural differences and experiences between US college students and students in South Africa. There were two tour guides that met us at the entrance of the university. They started off by telling us some history about the university.
The university has 51,000 students that attend and they come from all over Africa. Our tour guide was from the northern end of South Africa. During students’ first 3 years of college, they work toward their junior degree. Then, they can complete schooling for their honors degree in one year and masters over the next 2 years.
We then asked the tour guides different questions about their university to see what other similarities there are to schools in the states. We asked one of them if they have clubs or organizations. She responded by saying that at the beginning of the year the students compete in different activities and it was considered similar to the Olympics, on the university level. After we asked her about the residence halls and how they were organized, she said that there are mostly girls so mainly the female and male halls are separated but some are mixed. One thing that I thought was interesting was the fact that she made a statement by saying “the girls live closer because the men feel safe wherever they go so they live farther away, but the girls feel safe closer to campus”. I thought that was interesting because the city of Pretoria is known for their crime and no where is safe.
After talking more closely with the students, the boys feel just as unsafe as the females do. One student we talked to said he was attacked just the other day and he does not feel safe once he walks off the campus and outside the gates. I think it is ironic how much the males and females feel equally unsafe. But, from our female tour guide’s point of view, she thought the males feel safe wherever they go. I think she thought that because men are stereotyped as being buff and able to stand up for themselves but with the economy so bad now in South Africa, the people are desperate enough to hurt anyone.
Some similarities that I noticed about the campus and the students are that the campus and the atmosphere is much like Quinnipiac’s. It may not be completely up to date or modernized, but that is to be expected at any university because every university is different in it’s own ways. I also noticed that the university has shuttles just like us in order to transport the students.
During the tour, Melanie made a comment to me and said she was looking for segregation among the students. Although you could not see segregation like it used to be during apartheid, there is still some form of it. The students sat with the people that had the same colored skin as them. I think that here in South Africa, the generations and their views are all different.
Kristyn made a comment to the group that “in the states, it is not looked down upon if we hang out or talk to black students, but here in South Africa it is still looked down upon by some of the older generation, and the white students still get stares if they are talking or hanging out with black students.” I think that is true in some aspects because each generation is brought up differently and I think as each generation progresses, changes can be made.
Children are brought up by their parents and tend to stick with their parents’ point of view until they grow older and gain their own perspective. I also think it has to do with education as well and what students are taught growing up. When I was growing up I went to private schools my whole life and I never noticed a difference in race or color. I always thought that everyone was the same. My mother and father never told me there was a difference even though they were brought up differently. I recently had a conversation with my mother about race. She told me that by the time I grow to get married and have kids the world will be different and the view of race will be different. She told me that when she was growing up there was a lot of discrimination. When my mom married outside of her ethnicity, her family had a difficult time accepting that. Although my mother grew up differently than I did, she knew to bring me up with more respect for people and to understand the world and its people differently.
Later, we went to talk to a few students and had the chance to have a conversation with them. There were a few things that stuck out to me the most. I was surprised how we both perceived each other. I personally did not have a specific view, but I knew they would have preconceived ideas of us. One student talked a lot about our government and our news. It was shocking to hear how much he knew about our country and political system when I know nothing about US politics.
Another thing that interested me was when we asked for a black student’s point of view about apartheid. She said that it has to do with the generations because now the younger generations are more accepting and more willing to work with and be associated with black people, colored people, or any type of race or religion. I think that is very true because I look at my family and I see the younger people are more open minded and accepting. My sister and I have learned and believe that there is no difference within the different groups of people. There are obviously different beliefs and different ways of doing things, but deep down there is really no difference among us.
I look at the older generation in my family, I look at my father, mother and stepfather are more understanding than my grandparents generation. I think that as the years have passed and the world as changed, the older generation are stuck in their ways, but deep down they know it is wrong. I also think that with proper education, students can learn the history and the right ways of treating people.
Being on this trip, so far I have learned a lot of different things and there have been a lot of eye openers. I think that that teachers can change the world leading educational trips like Professor Gallay is doing. Even if a school cannot offer a program with the travel component, I think all it takes is proper education about the history of a country and ways to get students thinking. That can change a lot in a person’s perceptive. I also encourage my mom to read our blogs because I hope she can gain some of the perspective I’ve gained. I truly wish more people, including my family, could take this class and learn the history and the current events because it can teach people a lot. I think that as the years pass and with the education students are receiving now the generations can change and the world can be a better place.