“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” – Nelson Mandela, June 1999
This quote is at the entrance of The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. My experience in South Africa has been one of my most informative experiences. Besides site visits, we also attended a number of museums and townships, in which we were able to learn about the history and progression of South Africa. I began to learn and acknowledge connections between the US and other countries. It was very enlightening about race relations, mindsets of blacks and whites, and how progressive the country has been since Nelson Mandela.
My favorite museum was the Apartheid Museum. We were all given admissions tickets at random that said either WHITE or COLORED and depending on your classification, your experience entering the museum reflected segregation during the Apartheid. The journey through the museum, took us from the beginnings of apartheid, the racial segregation, and the fight and life of Nelson Mandela, along with other adversaries. Just as I started to think of how inhumane and unfair the treatment of blacks were, the museum led me to a section titled “Meanwhile in the United States…” with a projection of Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech. After being reminded of our own racial differences, I noticed how much further South Africa has come than the United States.
In terms of TGP, it was a great catalyst for conversations about race and being comfortable with being uncomfortable when talking abut disparities and the history of racial differences. When attending different schools with diverse students, we need to be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations with the middle school students.
The Hector Pieterson Museum was also very inspiring. Hector Pieterson was one of the students killed by police during a student-led peaceful protest against the mandatory use of Afrikaans in black schools. The museum celebrates the young students who struggled and protested against the apartheid. This museum reminded me of how much power we have as students and how we should continue to use our influence in a positive manner. If we continue to do so, we can empower our Grassroots students and encourage them to also make a difference in their community.