Cheyenne in South Africa

Cheyenne is a junior from Dallas majoring in public policy, with a minor in economics and human rights. She traveled with a group of 15 students, faculty and community members on a trip August 2-12 to South Africa, led by SMU Human Rights Program director Rick Halperin. The trip focused on the events and landmarks of apartheid, the system of racial segregation enforced there by the white-controlled government from 1948 to 1989.

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First stop: London

This is my first update since leaving America on Thursday afternoon, August 2. We landed in London on Friday morning, August 3, and spent the afternoon in the city. Not wasting any time, we filled our day with activities that taught us about human rights.

First we visited the Imperial War Museum, and more specifically viewed the new Holocaust Exhibit. The museum was in a beautiful old building that had airplanes and tanks from WWI and WWII. There was also a graffiti piece of the Berlin Wall outside that said, “Change your life.”

Live from the BBC
After a quick snack at the museum we traveled by bus to visit the BBC. The name of the BBC building is called the Bush House, which our group found ironic. We got our security passes and received a grand tour of the BBC. We were guided by Martin Plaut, who is from South Africa and now works at the BBC covering all issues on the African continent. He lived in South Africa during apartheid and was able to give an interesting perspective on the past and future of the country.

When we asked what he thought about the situation in South Africa, he proposed an interesting point to think about. Plaut wanted us to think about what the country could take from that time period. He commented how the apartheid time proves how endemic race is. The country is still so much divided and everyone, blacks and whites, still has a chip on their shoulder. He also briefly explained how the crisis in the Central African Republic was about to explode and could be more devastating than the destruction caused by Darfur.

It was fun to walk in the building because we heard many different languages as we ventured around. We got to go into the main news room where writers were actually deciding the headlines for new news. We learned the actual news that goes on air is only 25 seconds long. Writers were getting new updates on their e-mail about activities all over the world. We also got to walk in the room while live news was being recorded on air.

On to South Africa
After the BBC we drove by all the famous British sites like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, Big Bend, The London Eye, and Downing Street. The group was all starting to fade on the drive to Heathrow. We boarded the flight to Johannesburg just as the sun was setting in London. I was excited because we got chicken curry for dinner! The flight was over 10 hours long, but everyone was already pretty exhausted from the day in London.

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