When I first arrived in South Africa, my perception of this nation was built from a combination of school classes I had taken in addition to its portrayal in the American media. From movies and television to books and stories on the news, South Africa had always seemed like a far-cry from what I had known in the United States my whole life.
However, from the moment I stepped out the airport and as I visited different parts of the surrounding Western Cape area, including the diverse cultural townships and the inner-city of Cape Town, I realized that South Africa and the United States were a lot more culturally similar than I had thought.
“I am excited to continue to develop a better understanding of South African culture among its diverse peoples in order to gain a more inclusive perspective of life outside the United States.”
They don’t call South Africa, “The Rainbow Nation” for nothing. It really is, like the United States, a country of many diverse ethnicities, cultures, religions, and peoples – a “melting pot” as the US calls it. South Africa, as perceived in the US, has been painted as simply “black and white” when it really is a rainbow nation full of diverse peoples with long histories in its vast lands. Communities of black Africans that belong to different tribes such as Zulu and Xhosa, white Afrikaners of mixed European descent, in addition to historic Malaysian, British, Arabic, and Indian communities all unite under a single South African people at the end of the day – reminiscent of America’s cultural assimilation under the “melting pot.”
With two weeks remaining in my ACE experience, I am excited to continue to develop a better understanding of South African culture among its diverse peoples in order to gain a more inclusive perspective of life outside the United States.