Ubuntu

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Thank you, South Africa, for the experience of a lifetime. As I reflect on my experiences abroad, the relationships built between myself, and others were the most meaningful and memorable. Living and studying abroad was scary at first but the people around me and in my program made me feel comfortable. The locals were very welcoming so I cannot recall a time I felt scared during my travels. I had a difficult time adjusting to the time change but after a few early mornings of hiking and surfing, my body became accustomed. Another obstacle I faced was getting used to the cultural and social aspects of South Africa. In America, everything is very transactional when holding interactions with servers, hosts, etc. In South Africa, you must first greet the person properly and ask how they’re doing. This was an adjustment, but it made me realize how hostile and rude Americans can truly be toward one another. The cuisine was so rich in flavor and fresh, I did not once suffer a stomachache or headache from eating or drinking the water. My academic expectations were exceeded by my program abroad. The title of the class I took was, “Seasons of Protest.” In this class, we learned about the human rights protests of South African parallel to the Civil Rights protests in America. The course examined the history of protests in South Africa and the United States. Through the duration of the course, I was able to gain an overview of the theoretical approaches to protest and social movement theory alongside the examination of case studies. The course rigorously analyzed the United States Civil Rights movements of the 1960s, the international anti-apartheid movement, #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall, and the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. We broke down some of the key debates in sociology, anthropology, and political science that pertains to forms of resistance. I was able to evaluate and contextualize protest tactics, strategies, and their messaging in a comparative analysis of protests in the United States and South Africa. The course explored various texts and included various excursions including the Slave Lodge in South Africa, Muizenberg Beach, and a South African Broadway-like play. While abroad, my outlook on life pivoted. The inequalities and harsh realities of South African society sat in. My values changed and I no longer yearned for a piece of the capitalistic pie. As I move closer to graduating in Spring 2023, I am preparing for my next journey of life which will hopefully be graduate school. Studying abroad really allowed me time to slow things down in my life as I was once rushing through before with zero direction. I learned to embrace others and not always judge others by what they may have or how they look because we all hold a story, and that story is part of the human’s journey. My goals used to be marked by material items, but that is no longer because, in the end, those things have done nothing to improve the quality of life for human beings on this planet. I realized that it is up to us to save humanity through generosity, compassion, and sensitivity.