Peter presented us with yet another reminder of the environment we are entering. It was a creative one indeed and it drove home the message- we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Admittedly, I took the exercise seriously and didn’t catch onto the reality of the situation until Erik got sent into timeout (haha). I began to question why Peter was giving our group advice and extra supplies, and also found it strange when he started ridiculing our opponents.
Sadly enough, even with our groups extra advice and supplies, it took us much longer to win the activity than Peter expected. We were a little slow… but it made for a good laugh.
The blondes were privileged; the brunettes were deprived and suppressed. Representative of apartheid, Peter’s message sank in during our ten-minute reflection that followed.
The activity made me think of a class discussion in my International Political Economy course. The class topic was on global inequality and the politics of development. We reviewed why certain regions of the world (specifically African regions) are underdeveloped, and discussed what actions are necessary to help such underdeveloped regions ‘catch-up’ to the globalized world.
I thought of this ‘catch-up’ concept while reflecting upon the activity. Although barriers of development may be removed (such as apartheid policy) and citizens are given the opportunity and ‘tools’ to develop, it does not guarantee success for the underprivileged. Many people simply do not know what to do with the tools. For example, throw spaghetti and marshmallows at students and tell them to build a structure to reach the ceiling. The brunettes and the blondes both had the tools to get the job done, but the underprivileged did not have the skills and knowledge to succeed.
This was my biggest takeaway from the activity; the recognition that although the apartheid policies have concluded, the effects still linger. South Africa may be free from the oppressive rulings of the past, and the nation has reason to celebrate this triumph. However, the reality of the situation is that the major inequalities persist simply from being deprived for such an extended amount of time. Citizens now find themselves in a new era of endless possibilities and opportunities, but where to start? What to make of this new freedom?
I realize that it is the efforts of our QU South Africa group that is the most effective aid that can be given to developing nations. Our group is traveling to educate the youth on making right decisions and focus their attention in a positive direction. We are providing them with an opportunity to involve themselves in productive activities instead of occupying their time with easily accessible, troublesome activities. I think we have developed as a great group with great initiatives to help make a positive impact in the lives of many children who are discovering the opportunities of equality and freedom.