Life lessons

17 June 2014

What can a degree in the humanities teach you about life? Can it help you become a better person?

Claire JamesClaire James
English, Afrikaans, history and social anthropology

"It's taught me that so many things are socially constructed. Being [in the humanities] has taught me to be a lot more open; it still taught me to be critical, to evaluate things from the space that they come from – but it's made me a lot more respectful."

Zoe FraserZoe Fraser
Sociology, social anthropology, philosophy and critical thinking (1st year)

"Sociology and social anthropology are very personal ... You delve into a lot of other people's lives - and not necessarily people that you've been exposed to. It opens you up ... and in that way, you understand people more."

Alexxa LeonAlexxa Leon
History (3rd year)

"I'm more aware of this global system of inequality that I'm a part of and I've become aware of the experiences of other people, not just my own. Just knowing more helps. It informs my decisions of the day, what I perpetuate and what I actively try not to. It matters what stories are told. Because it comes down to who has power to tell those stories. That has a huge effect on how people are represented, how we see people, and how we treat people. "

Reagan Kutlo TsimakokoReagan Kutlo Tsimakoko
Politics, Mandarin, African and Chinese history

"Mandarin opened up a whole new world. It's allowed me to learn from people and a culture that has been around for thousands of years. Just learning this language, you're able to communicate with 1.2 billion people that you haven't been able to communicate with. It's taught me that there's more than one history. There's more than one story."

Andrei DamaneAndrei Damane
Politics, political science and international relations (2nd year)

"I chose to do political science after two gap years. And it was in that time that I worked in a restaurant and I had to experience a lot of different kinds of cultures. That really piqued my interest in politics and diplomacy - you don't understand the necessity or the need to speak to people properly until you're in a situation where you need to be kind to people all the time."

Gloria ChikaoandaGloria Chikaoanda
French, law and international relations (3rd year)

"The thing about humanities is ... it makes you question everything that you think you know. It opens up your mind to different possibilities. It makes you more tolerant."

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