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South African Students at CMASS

CMASS hosted Six Students from the University of the Free State, South Africa

The University of Massachusetts has had some special international guests on campus this past month. They were on a special mission deployed from across the continent and UMASS Amherst was the subject of their study. Six students from South Africa’s the University of the Free State came to explore the racial climate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus through a series of discussions and observations.

During their two week stay in the United States the students realized that, what they had learned about America from the history books was different from America’s current reality. A mixer was held in Wilder Hall on September 29th with the six students from South Africa and five UMASS students had a broad and honest conversation comparing race relations in South Africa and the United States.

“The perception I had is that America with its black president was living in a post-racial society, but now I understand that it is an issue that is swept under the rug. It has become a silenced issue rather than a non-issue,” mentioned one of the South African students.

The group of young men from South Africa were proactive in learning new ideas and methods they could take back to their university to make it a more racially tolerant society and university.

They noted that America’s racial climate is visibly fragmented and hostile. The conversation concluded with one main message. The best way to be an agent of change for their university is for students to be changed themselves. Their interactions with one another across racial lines will speak volumes to such a racially divided university.

Elizabeth Asefa - Website Reporter