Perceptions from abroad

Business administration students from the US’s Rutgers University joined Brand South Africa at Constitution Hill this week to discuss South Africa’s standing from a global perspective. The visiting students also got to peer into South Africa’s past during a tour of the Hill.

During a tour on their visit to Constitution Hill on 16 March 2017, students from Rutgers University, in New Jersey US, took a look into the lives of some of the leaders and political figures who helped shape South Africa. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)

Mathiba Molefe

Not everything you hear about other countries holds true. Once you visit a country and have a closer look at what makes it tick, you get a better understanding of its people, its heritage and its customs.

This was the sentiment shared by a group of business administration students visiting South Africa from Rutgers University in New Jersey, United States.

The students Joined Brand South Africa at Constitution Hill, one of South Africa’s most prominent heritages sites, for an engaging discussion about the country’s brand and its standing in the eyes of the students.

Talks touched on a range of factors that influenced the country’s brand, such as tourism, investment, immigration, governance and exports, as well as delved into the rich culture and heritage of South Africa.

“Whose perceptions are we trying to influence?” asked Tshepiso Malele, the marketing manager at Brand South Africa.

“The answer is, anybody whose decisions or actions have an impact on us as a country. In everything that we do we need to make sure that we influence and shape their perceptions positively and help them develop balanced views about South Africa.”

It was also an opportunity for the visitors to engage with Brand South Africa representatives, such as strategic government relationship manager Toni Gumede, and learn more about the great strides the country is taking.

“In terms of our efforts to influence perceptions, when we say good things about the country they are not lies,” Gumede explained. “We’re saying these good things because they are real.”

Students from Rutgers University in the USA joined Brand South Africa at Constitution Hill, one of South Africa’s most prominent heritages sites, for an engaging discussion about the country’s brand and its standing in the eyes of the students. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)

Thoughts from our visitors

“I believe that the people on your Brand SA team really have a lot of love for their country,” said Edbia Diggs, one of the Rutgers University students.

“I like that there are people who are actually working together to make sure that South Africa is seen in a different light because there are a lot of misconceptions out there, particularly in the States and other African countries too.”

Philip Ward, another of the Rutgers students, said it amazed him that South Africa was so misinterpreted in terms of its story and what went into shaping it.

“It’s a completely unique entity and it has so much to offer, and in terms of history when you look at why things are the way are,” Ward said.

“South Africa can be looked at as an independent cornerstone of the continent to be able to show other countries on the continent how to do business.

“We’ve learned a lot about how South Africa still wants to influence the rest of the continent in trying to drive development.”

Through the discussions, the visiting students got a better understanding of the country as a whole, completing the picture they would carry home.

“We want our visitors to go back home and act as ambassadors for our nation brand,” Gumede said.

“We want them to take home the experiences they had here in South Africa and help change perceptions of our country for the better.”

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