Its time to hear from Rori Ann Nalls as she shares her personal experience of her time in the Rainbow Nation with the Leadership Academy!
South Africa can be best described as a melting pot for obvious reasons. Numerous cultures can be encountered on a daily basis in the shopping malls or walking down the streets. Even your cab driver comes from an entirely different country, yet finds home in such a dissimilar setting. In South Africa, many of the natives can communicate effectively in a minimum of seven languages by age ten. It was so interesting to see children switching between Dutch, Portuguese, Xhosa, and English with little effort, while it can be argued that most Americans can barely speak English properly by the time they reach adulthood.
Language was not the only cultural factor we observed during our trip. Since there are so many different ethnic backgrounds in one area we became aware of the behavioral differences and reasons behind them. Many Europeans that came to live in South Africa or were there were more easy going and were seeking adventure or were pursuing business ventures. While many Africans we met moved to South Africa into the major cities like Cape Town or Johannesburg to create a better life for themselves or their families and attend universities, like the University of Western Cape.
During our trip, The Leadership Academy also noticed how similar we were to our peers at Hoops for Hope and The Grassroots Soccer coaches. Taking selfies and posting them on Facebook was an activity we all enjoyed. Our common goal to reach children through sports and by being positive role models in our communities proved to have many similar challenges as well as rewards. We all found that youth today are difficult to appeal to at first but breaking down the barrier by letting them know that we’re there for them as friends and supporters, not disciplinarians, makes them comfortable and open for discussion. However, we did the notice the difference in appreciation for education. We observed that many children in South Africa saw attending school as a privilege whereas in America it’s just something you know you have to do. We learn because we’re told to and not necessarily because we’re excited to.
Overall, South Africa is a country rich in culture that often thrives on the differences of all its inhabitants and provided wonderful exposure to so many parts of the world in one place.