Education Through Diversity: A South African Experience
During Apartheid in South Africa, the country was divided into a Homeland system in order to foster hostility among ethnic groups. In the decade since the fall of Apartheid, the South African government has actively promoted the image of a harmonious “Rainbow Nation” domestically and internationally, however, in reality, many rural areas still remain socially and geographically isolated with little opportunity for exposure to other cultures. This lack of cultural exposure may serve to maintain ethnic rivalries, hostilities, and stereotypes. As a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, I was also a member of the Peace Corps Diversity Committee, the purpose of which is to facilitate cultural understanding among both American volunteers and with South African counterparts. As a member of this committee, I participated in a cultural exchange project targeted toward ethnically isolated rural communities. The goals of the Cultural Ambassadors Project were to increase the participant’s knowledge of South Africa’s social/cultural environment, promote communication across cultural lines, and encourage cultural education in rural primary schools. The project required that a community send 3 primary school learners and one teacher to a different ethnic community to share their cultural practices and language. The following week, the second community would send its ambassadors to the original village. In my presentation for this conference, I will report the outcomes of this unique project and its potential impact on cultural education and communication in South Africa.
Tamara Johnson (United States)
The Environmental Academy
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Tamara Johnson received her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from The University of North Carolina. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa, working with rural primary school teachers on lesson planning and project design and management. Currently, Tamara directs the Environmental Academy at UNC Charlotte.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)