June 20, 2013
South Africa Maymester
The Defining Moments in South Africa
The experience I had in South Africa only a month ago has not only instilled in me lasting memories and valuable lessons I will cherish forever, but it has also greatly broadened my view of the world and how it works. Before the trip, I had never been outside of the United States, so I feel my perspective and understanding of the world was limited to only what I heard from the experiences of others, and what I had been taught in school. After the trip though, I was able to develop my own understandings and create a world perspective unique to my own experience. I have since been eager to broaden my perspective even more by hopefully having the opportunity in the future to travel to various other countries, and witness firsthand their cultures while learning even more lessons I will be able to carry with me forever. Even though the trip lasted only two weeks, I feel as if I have learned a lifetimes worth of lessons ranging from the classroom where I learned how to be a successful business leader and entrepreneur, to venturing outside the classroom into the heart of Cape Town and experiencing a culture completely different from ours.
The Maymester trip the Cape Town, South Africa has changed the way I view the world in many different ways. For instance, before the trip, I was small-minded when it came to how the world works. I never thought about much outside the United States, and I only cared about how current events affected me here in the States. I thought everywhere solved problems like the United States does. After the trip though, I have begun to understand how current events are all intertwined, and other countries, such as South Africa, experience many similar issues. I have also learned these other countries solve their issues from different approaches. This experience has helped me to better understanding different ways of dealing with current issues, such as the economy, and develop my own opinions of what methods work and what methods do not. Every country is very unique in thinking and problem solving, and I believe these unique ideas resonate with each other making it easy to pick out the pros and cons.
South Africa has also changed my worldview culturally as well. Being able to experience a culture rich in heritage and completely different from ours made for an exceptional understanding of the world. I have always been told it is beneficial to try new things, and being able to try the culture of a different country turned out to be very beneficial. I tried new things I have never tried before ranging from foods like oxtail and impala, to attending a different countries favorite pastime, rugby. I also enjoyed being able to experience everything in a landscape I have never seen before. Here in the United States, if I wanted to go to the beach I would typically have to travel to the coast, and if I wanted to visit the mountains I would have to drive closer inland to the mountain ranges. But, in South Africa I was excited to learn the beaches and mountains came in as a package, and met each other at the ocean creating beautiful scenery I have never seen before. This scenery helped expand my worldview by allowing me to understand the completely different terrains that are available throughout the earth.
Another aspect of South Africa that helped to broaden my view of the world was being able to visit a country with a government very different from ours. It is one thing to learn about another country’s government and history from a textbook in a classroom in your own country, but being able to visit the country firsthand and actually participate in their government gives a whole new perspective that could not be learned from any textbook. South Africa’s government is very new, and rapidly trying to grow. Since South Africa’s government is young, the eagerness they have to rapidly grow and establish their own governmental ideas allow them to try different approaches. Even though I was only in Cape Town for two weeks, the visit allowed me to create my own understanding of different governments throughout the world, and how they affect the life of South African citizens. For instance, I did not realize how corrupt the legal system in South Africa was. After hearing stories from various South African locals, it seems they rely very little on their country’s protective services (policemen), and would rather rely on hired private security for protection if they can afford it.
Even though I was excited about expanding my knowledge of the world and how other countries work, I was also enthusiastic to expand my knowledge of how the world views the United States, which happened to be a very positive view. It was very interesting to learn the opinions many people had about America from someone who lives in a different country. It seems that most countries have the same goals they would like to achieve, along with the hardships and determination it takes to achieve them. As taught to us in one of our many business lectures by Stewart Hendry, it is about satisfying needs.
I have learned many things through the various lectures about business and entrepreneurship that I will definitely use in life. One of the things I learned that stood out to me would be Stewart Hendry’s lecture on satisfying needs. In life it is important to decide whether something is a necessity or just a want. Needs are essential, necessary for survival, and are powerful driving forces. According to Stewart, there are nine basic necessities a person must satisfy to feel complete. These necessities are substance, protection, affection, understanding, participation, creation, idleness, identity, and freedom. I learned in order to satisfy your needs one must first learn how to satisfy them. So a need can be satisfied a good/service must be present that will work to allow the need to be satisfied. While it is important for any person to satisfy their needs, they all correlate with each other. This correlation can have negative effects if there is too much of one need, or not enough of another. Needs may be inhibiting if over used, destroy the possibility of satisfying other needs if satisfied the wrong way, or only appear to satisfy a need (pseudo needs). This lesson will impact me for the rest of my life, because not only will it help me in deciding how to better satisfy my needs as a human being, but will also allow me to use the knowledge I have gained to find a potential product to produce that satisfies the needs of others in order to run a successful business.
The knowledge filled and memory full trip to South Africa I was privileged to attend in May will be a trip I will forever remember. The lessons I learned resonated with me, and allowed me to better understand the world in a whole new perspective. I am grateful for being able to be a part of such a wonderful experience.