Student Questions

This is a vlog (video log) of some students from Sacred Heart College in South Africa asking questions to our students here at Bishop Kearney. What are your answers to their questions?

Copy of IMG_0036.MOV

We have created our own vlog featuring questions for the Sacred Heart College Students. We will share their answers with you soon.

Question for October 19, 2018, from Tam Bui:

Question: What important historical sites do you have in South Africa?


Our Short Answer from WBKS: There are many historical sites in South Africa. One of the most important is Soweto, a township just outside of Johannesburg, which was the scene of the Soweto Uprising. At that time, South Africans lived under the system of Apartheid, in which the white minority ruled and discriminated against the black majority. Blacks and whites were kept separate, and blacks had few rights.

White South Africans spoke a language called Afrikaans that blacks did not speak. In 1976, the government passed a law that all students would be educated in the Afrikaans language. Thousands of students from Soweto organized and participated in a protest against this. They carried signs and sang freedom songs. They were fired on by police, who killed two children and injured hundreds of others. The shootings in Soweto sparked a massive uprisings throughout South Africa and left a lasting legacy that led to the downfall of Apartheid.

To find out more about what happened in Soweto, check out these resources:

There are many historic places in South Africa. Look up other interesting sites and let us know your favorites. Email them to us at wbks@kearneyhs.org, and we will post your answers below. Here are some links that might help:

Question 1 for October 22nd, from an anonymous student to the students at Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg:

What is your curriculum like?

Question 2 for October 22nd, from Martina Hermantz:

Do you study language in school? If so, which languages are available to learn?

While we will have to ask the students at Sacred Heart themselves specific questions about their curriculum, we do have some general answers for you based on the information available on their Website. Here it is:

  • Their subjects are arranged into Learning Fields, which integrate knowledge, skills, and values. For instance, the Social Sciences Learning Field teaches history but also strives to develop develop a commitment to addressing social injustice, abuse of human rights, and a deteriorating environment in its learners.
  • We couldn't find all of the subjects offered at Sacred Heart College, but we did find out that the following subjects are offered to Grade 12 students: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu (the Zulu language), French, Mathematics, Math Literacy, Computer Application Technology, Physical Science, Life Science, Life Orientation, Geography, History, Accounting, Visual Arts, Dramatic Arts, Information Technology, and Physical Education.
  • South Africa has 12 official languages, so there's no way that any one school could offer them all. 4 languages is a lot, though!

We are sure there are many more courses offered at Sacred Heart College, and we can't tell you what a typical student's schedule would look like. Hopefully we can find out more for you when our students have another Google Hangout with the students from Sacred Heart. In the meantime, if you email Dr. Minson, she may be able to find out more for you. If you find out anything else that could help us answer these 2 questions, please email your answers to wbks@kearneyhs.org. We will post your answers here!

Question from October 23rd, from Stephanie Neri:

How many provinces are there in South Africa?

  • South Africa is about twice the size of Texas, and it is divided into 9 provinces. Gauteng is the smallest of the provinces, but it is the home to South Africa’s largest and most populous city, Johannesburg, as well as our partner school, Sacred Heart Academy. If you look at the map, you will see a gray, slightly oval-shaped area that has no name. This is not a province, but actually a completely independent nation that exists within the borders of South Africa. Called the Kingdom of Lesotho, it is a tiny, beautiful nation completely surrounded by mountains, which create a natural border and isolate it from the nation of South Africa.

To find out more, check out the following link:

Which province would you most like to visit and why? Email us at wbks@kearneyhs.org. We will post your answers here!

Question from October 24th, from an anonymous student:

What laws are different in South Africa than in the United States?

  • In general, the laws in South Africa are basically the same as our laws. There are some interesting exceptions, though. For example, if you are ever driving in South Africa and a herder and his cattle want to cross the road, you must yield to them. Herders and their donkeys, goats, pigs, ostriches, mules, and horses have the right of way! Another interesting law gives men the right to marry more than one woman. Polygamy is illegal in the United States, but it is a part of some traditional cultures in South Africa and is legal there. Finally, because there is such a problem with poachers in South Africa, it is illegal there to buy, sell, kill, or capture any protected wild animal or trade any of its parts without a permit. South Africa is part of an international ban on the trade of ivory and rhino horn. Anyone caught buying or selling them will receive prison sentences or heavy fines.

Can you find any other laws in South Africa that are different from laws in the United States? If you can, send them to us at wbks@kearney.org, and we'll post them here!

Question from October 25th, from Savera Raza:

Who is your role model? Why?

  • Although the answer to this question would vary from person to person, we do have some answers from you that we got from an article called, "How Role Models Helped These 9 Successful South Africans". Lise Kuhle, the founder of a successful company manufacturing products out of recycled materials, says, "Nelson Mandela is top of mind. He knew how to market himself, he knew how to work a room, he knew who he was and what he stood for, he knew when to budge and when not to. He was a businessman, an activist, a humanitarian and a poet with a wicked sense of humor."
  • Nathalie Schooling, the founder and managing director of the successful customer experience imorovement company N’Lighten, says, "My role models are Young South Africans who, against all odds, have succeeded, such as Siyabulela Xusa.” Siyabulela Xusa is a young South African rocket scientist. He comes from the township of Umthatha and is studying at Harvard, working on developing new kinds of energy. He is an advisory member of the Energy Advisory Panel of the African Union and has an asteroid named after him.
  • Linda Olagunju, the managing director of a renewable energy company, has this to say: “The ordinary Africans that wake up every day in the face of adversity and decide to give life a second chance and pursue their dreams. Those are the people that inspire me. The continent is a constant source of inspiration to me. I see who we are and I see how even greater we could be.”

Works Cited:

"How Role Modes Helped These 9 Successful South Africans". Successness.com, Successness, https://successness.com/2015/06/how-role-models-helped-these-9-successful-south-africans/. Accessed on 24 October 2018.

Can you tell us about a South African that you feel would be a good role model? If you can, send us your information at wbks@kearney.org, and we'll post your answer here!

Question from October 29th, from Emma Colgan:

Do you believe that the American culture has had an impact on South African society?

American society has a big influence in most countries, due largely to the the international popularity of our music, TV shows, and Hollywood films. Wrestling has also spread to South Africa, and the WWF is hugely popular. American music is becoming more and more common. Many of our fast-food chains have spread around the globe, and South Africa is no exception. KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks, Dominos, and Burger King are popular in South Africa. A lot of American products are advertised and sold there, including Coke and Pepsi. Some people think this is all great, but others don’t like how much of American culture has spread to Africa. One thing that everyone can agree is positive, though, was the influence that the American Civil Rights Movement had on South Africa. While South Africans were protesting unfair apartheid laws, many of the protesters found inspiration in the similar struggles of African-Americans to end segregation.

Can you find any other influences that American culture has had on South Africa? If you can, send them to us at wbks@kearney.org, and we'll post them here!

Question from October 30th, from Junior Phyia Walker and three anonymous students:

What Kinds of Wild Animals Are in South Africa?

    • South Africa has several types of habitat types, from forests to deserts to everything in-between. This makes it ideal for thousands of species to flourish. These include exciting predators, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and a huge variety of fascinating insects. They live free in the natural countryside, but if you want to observe them safely, you would go on safari in one of South Africa’s many game reserves and national parks, as Dr. Minson did.
    • As Dr. Minson told us in her emails, South Africa is home what is called the Big Five: the African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Lion, Black Rhino, and Leopard. There are many other animals as well, including 13 endangered species, such as the mountain zebra and the African wild dog. Dolphins, whales, and other sea animals are frequently spotted off the coast. South Africa is also home to a variety of bird and reptile life, including several species that can only be found in South Africa, such as the Table Mountain Ghost Frog.
    • Now that Dr. Minson is back from her South Africa trip, she can tell you all about the animals she saw on safari first-hand.

Can you find any other interesting animals that live in South Africa! Tell us about them!

We will publish your answers and pictures of your animals below.

Question from November 1st, from Junior Mariapaz Burbano:

What is the national symbol of South Africa?

South Africa’s coat of arms (below) is its main symbol. Every element of the coat of arms is symbolic. The wheat represents fertility and growth. The elephant tusks represent strength and South African wildlife, and the gold shield represents a drum for the traditional music of South Africa. On the shield, two figures are facing one another in greeting and unity. Above the shield are two weapons, representing defense of the nation and hinting at the history of conflict between the peoples of South Africa. However, the weapons are lying down, which represents peace and reconciliation. A secretary bird, known for its ability to fight off its enemies, hovers over the crest. It’s body is made up of a diamond, as South Africa is famous for its diamonds, and the diamond is made up of a South African flower and a traditional African pattern and colors.

South Africa’s motto is written across the bottom of the crest. Written in the Khoisan language, which is one of South Africa’s traditional languages, it translates as, “Diverse people unite", or, "Unity in Diversity". Basically, South Africa’s national symbol represents its traditions, its resources, its potential, and the unity of its people despite past struggles.

Another important symbol of the country is it's flag. South Africa’s flag, with its many traditional colors and intersecting lines, also represents the convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity.

Works Cited

"South Africa's National Symbols". Brand South Africa. Brand South Africa, 15 September 2016. https://www.brandsouthafrica.com/people-culture/arts-culture/south-africas-national-symbols. Accessed on 31 October 2018.

Works Cited

"Coat of Arms", Girl Guides South Africa. Girl Guides South Africa, 2018. http://girlguides.org.za/coat-of-arms/. Accessed on 31 October 2018.

Question for November 2nd, from several students, including Kelley Castro, Ashley Boyd, Hanting Jaio, Angelina Torres, and Alyssa P.

What is the weather/climate like in South Africa?

The weather in the country of South Africa is not easy to summarize. In a single day, temperatures can change drastically depending on where you are: desert, tropical coast, woodland, or mountain. In general, though, most of the country experiences warm days and cool nights.

South Africa has winter, spring, summer, and fall, but they correspond to different months of the year than ours do. Winter lasts from June to August, with an average high temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. It can go below freezing in some parts of the country during the winter. Summer lasts from November to January, with highs of about 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most of the country is dry, but there is some humidity and rain throughout much of South Africa in the summer. One area, called the Western Cape, doesn’t see much rain at all. This is part of the reason why Cape Town is just beginning to recover from a water shortage so severe that they actually thought they were running out of drinkable water. It was a scary time!

Question from November 5th, from an anonymous student:

Can you get eaten by lions?

Since lions see pretty much every living thing around them as potential prey, the answer is yes. There have been several cases of lions killing and eating human beings. Just this past July, three rhino poachers were apparently eaten by a pride of lions on a game reserve in South Africa. The poachers had gone to the reserve to hunt black rhinos for their horns. Black rhino horns are used to make certain Chinese medicines, and are also used as decorations to symbolize wealth and power. It’s illegal to hunt rhinos, but many poachers sneak onto game reserves to kill them and take their valuable horns. This time, instead of the poachers killing rhinos, a pride of lions killed the poachers. If you go to South Africa, though, you don’t have to worry about being eaten by lions. Lions there all live on game reserves or in national parks. You can see them safely from jeeps on safari, just like Dr. Minson did. As long as you follow directions, you won’t get eaten!

Question from November 7th, from Mikayla Alfarano:

How many people in South Africa are poor?

Because of the way the media portrays Africa, many people think that everyone who lives on the entire continent is poor, but this isn’t true. There are many wealthy and middle-class people living in South Africa. However, about 90% of South Africa’s wealth is held by only 10% of its population. There is a huge gap between the rich and everyone else. Slightly more than half of South Africans, over 30 million people, live in poverty.

During Apartheid, black South Africans were forced to live in the poorest areas, called townships. They aren’t forced to live there anymore, but due to lack of basic services and education, many have not been able to improve their lives since Apartheid ended, and have become stuck in a cycle of poverty. There are also some white South Africans who live in poverty.


This short video from the World Economic Forum will show you the differences between how the wealthy and the poor live in South Africa from a unique perspective: the air.