By Jenna Hall
Throughout this entire experience we have learned about the affects of apartheid, the wealth disparities among different races, the mistreatment of miners, and the corruption of the South African government. The lessons I’ve learned and the things I’ve seen have been powerful and will stay with me for the rest of my life. With that said, one of the most enjoyable times was on the safari adventure. The safari was a nice and lighthearted pause between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Education comes in many forms, and one of the most interesting experiences we’ve had so far came in the form of Kruger National Park. My Basotho group has been focusing on looking at South Africa focused on education. But this was really an experience in which we were the ones who were educated. On the first day of safari, we loaded up into our trucks and ventured off into the roped off, but wild, lands of Kruger National Park. We saw giraffes, elephants, hyenas, water buffalo, baboons, white rhinos, and more. It’s cool to see elephants regardless, but what made the experience truly remarkable was our guide, Israel’s, remarks and lessons about all of the animals we saw. For example, as we passed what seemed like hundreds of antelope, our guide told us all about their dietary habits and how they avoid being tracked by predators. Springbok actually defecate behind the defecations of other larger animals to mask their smell so they can’t be traced. We also learned about the maturation habits of the animals. For example, elephants only really birth one calf at a time and that calf lives with its family till it reaches sexual maturity at 2-3 years old.
I was most excited to see the giraffes. We learned that the giraffes actually have the same amount of vertebrae in their spines as humans do; their necks are just extra long. We also learned that they walk with both of their left feet or right feet at the same time. You can tell the difference between male and female giraffes because of the horns on their heads. They also sleep kneeling or standing up because if they laid down flat all the blood would rush away from their heads and hearts and they wouldn’t be able to stand up. Giraffes have been my favorite animal since I was little, so I completely treasure the experience of being able to learn about them while watching them roam freely.
The other educational experience we had at Kruger was through our peers. On our last day in Kruger each tribe gave a presentation that well all had been preparing for since before our arrival in South Africa. My group presented on the differences between education between the blacks and the whites within South Africa. Our group worked well together and I can’t put into words all that I have gained through our research. Listening to the other groups’ presentations was even more valuable. The Venda Tribe had one of the most interesting presentations about economic policies and trends within South Africa pre and post apartheid. They conducted a game that showed us how people are treated differently based on their race and explained why the majority of the country distrusts the banks. It was nice to learn more about South Africa through my peers.
While our two days in Kruger were more lighthearted and fun, they still awarded educational value. I found this worth writing about because its important to understand that educational opportunities can be found anywhere you go. As I said, my group looked into the educational disparities in South Africa, which is of course crippling for those who are not granted adequate learning opportunities. With that said, I think it is important to take responsibility for educating oneself. I was able to gain valuable and interesting knowledge while on the safari that I will take with me when I leave South Africa. It is interesting to think of the different types of intelligence. Is formal education more valuable than everyday opportunities to learn? Are they equal? Does someone need a formal education to recognize and soak in other knowledge?