Georgia State students take a closer look at SA

The best way to get a better understanding of how a country works is to go and take a closer look yourself. These were the sentiments shared by a group of students from the US’s Georgia State University who visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Constitution Hill with Brand South Africa.

A diverse group of students from the USA’s Georgia State University joined Brand South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Foundation and took part in enlightening discussions about South Africa, its history and how it has become one of the leading countries on the African continent. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)

There is much that South Africa has to offer its visitors, be it breathtaking scenery both natural and manmade, its warm and welcoming people, or the investment opportunities available in a wide range of sectors.

This was the message shared with a group of students from the US’s Georgia State University (GSU), by Brand South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) on Friday, 10 August 2017.

While at the foundation, the American students learned more about the life of Nelson Mandela and how his efforts, coupled with those of political activists such as Steve Boko and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, helped to shape the country into the democracy it is today.

The conversations held at the foundation gave the students insight into how South Africa had been and continued to grow as a nation, highlighting its strengths while acknowledging its shortcomings.

“South Africa is amazing,” said Master’s student Arthur Kiboit. “Just trying to imagine what people went through and the fact that they were able to forgive and live together. That’s just so strong.”

While at the foundation, the American students learned more about the life of Nelson Mandela and how his efforts, coupled with those of political activists such as Steve Boko and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, helped to shape the country into the democracy it is today. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)

Shifting perceptions

As the custodian of the South African nation brand, Brand South Africa relished the opportunity to introduce the American students to the country, highlighting South Africa’s already strong reputation and position as the spearhead of growth and development on the continent.

“It’s impressive that South Africa is one of the only countries in Africa that has gay rights and gay marriage,” Kiboit said.

“I think that South Africa is crucial as an entry into Africa for many companies. For instance, I studied business and it’s very attractive, as you can see multinational companies from the US are based here.

“I work for UPS; UPS is based here, and so South Africa is definitely a place that people should come to visit.”

Another Master’s student, Alicia Dawkins, was quick to notice just how developed South Africa was, saying that “even though an ocean separates us, we’re very similar and have dealt with very similar things”.

Doctoral student Thais Council said: “I’ve always romanticised Africa a lot in my mind through the books that I’ve read.”

To anyone still wondering whether or not to visit South Africa, Council said “pack all your clothes.

“Also bring your appetite because there’s really great food here, and bring your best camera so you don’t miss some of these great shots here in South Africa, some of the best I’ve seen in my life.”

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