Paradigm Shifting

Ashby Mccoy
March 17, 2016

Paradigm: a framework containing the basic assumptions,ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community

The way we think sculpts the way we act. Studying in a different country broadens one’s horizons, but living in South Africa has the ability to remold your perspective.

In the onion of South Africa we are slowly peeling away layers of what life here is really like, and while sometimes our eyes sting, the truth hurts. As we transitioned from the beach to the books, we have been exposed to a whole new set of perspectives; students. One of the biggest culture shocks has thus far been in the classroom. Sitting in the average class at the University of Cape Town is the equivalent of attending a meeting on Wall Street in October of 2008. Bit of a stretch but needless to say, stimulating. Unlike in the U.S., students are academically driven not just by the goal of receiving an A but by their own history. The incredibly rich and complex history of South Africa affects every sphere of life. Thinking before you speak has a whole new meaning here as every word is drenched in a painful and exploited history. But that’s what makes it such a unique and eye-opening place to study in.

As Americans, we live in safe haven where we rarely challenge authorities because the established truth of supremacy. We assume correctness of our leaders because of a history of trust and reliability. But not everyone has the luxury of being able to without question trust a hierarchy.

Distrust in the government here is the root of conflict. And this is where a shift in paradigm is crucial. The generally skewed perceptions of gender, race, and political issues contributes to a nonlinear consciousness within the population. The most striking thing one notices while living in Cape Town is the drastic contrasts from simply turning your head left to right. Parallels can be drawn of black versus white, rich versus poor, and mountains versus ocean. And the transition isn’t subtle. You can be sitting on the mahogany porch of a 5 bedroom beach-side apartment, look to your left, and see a house in a township that fits 5 people in one bedroom. While diversity in the US is generally praised as a melting pot of culture, in developing countries the pot has not yet melted.

However, while the country struggles with fractured balance, its beauty shines through. Even with a history soaked in oppression and conflict, South Africans have warm hearts and welcoming arms. They say a South African will either kiss you or rob you; as you walk down the streets of Rondebosch, it’s your choice whether to see the good or the bad in a person.


Ashby Mccoy

<p>Nature lover, adventure seeker, and music enthusiast. Raised on a Northern farm, educated in a Southern city. Self-proclaimed environmentalist with an unyielding admiration for the avocado-eating Resplendent Quetzal. Moto to live by: &quot;Be the change that you wish to see in the world&quot;</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
College of Charleston
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