AU PAIR CULTURE QUESTS
Capital(s): Pretoria, Cape Town, Bloemfontein
Languages: English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Northern Sotho, Venda, Tsonga, Swati, Ndebele
Predominant Religion(s): Christianity
The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in South Africa. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.
Child Care Skills
- It is very much part of the South African culture that children take care of their younger siblings, as in most families both parents as working.
- Many young adults participate in volunteer programs either through the church or community organizations.
- Many South African tertiary colleges offer diplomas in childcare skills, and these diplomas include extended periods of practical experience. The courses also include modules in first aid, swimming, cooking and basic child psychology.
- South African people have a word called “Ubuntu,” which is a word of ancient African origin meaning “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Ubuntu is the essence of being human and refers to the belief that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation as we are all interconnected – your family plays a crucial role in Ubuntu.
- We apply the Ubuntu philosophy to everyday life, and this means we treat everybody as if they are our own family. We should trust each other and lean on each other as if they are our family as well as love each other and protect each other.
- An old African proverb sums it up perfectly – “It takes a village to raise a child.” The meaning of the proverb is that it takes more than one person to teach a child the ways of life. A child comes across many different experiences and circumstances during their life and is taught right and wrong by others.
- English is established throughout South African society amongst individuals from a variety of linguistic and ethnic backgrounds.
- English functions as the primary language of government, business, and commerce.
- Educationally, it is a compulsory subject in all schools, and is the preferred medium of instruction in most schools and tertiary institutions.
- In South Africa, driving licenses are issued by authorized driving license testing centers in a “credit card” format. The minimum age to hold a license is 18, and most applicants obtain their driving license at this age.
- Before applying for a driving licence, a prospective driver must first obtain a learner’s license. The learner’s test is a multiple-choice test that examines knowledge of vehicle controls, rules of the road, and traffic signs.
- The driving test has two components: the first is the yard test followed by the road test, in which the applicant demonstrates his or her driving ability on the public roads, following the instructions of the examiner.
- Education is compulsory, and South Africans attend twelve years of formal schooling, from Grade 1 to 12.
- Grade R is a pre-primary foundation year. Primary schools span the first seven years of schooling, and high school education spans a further five years.
- The Senior Certificate examination takes place at the end of Grade 12 and is necessary for tertiary studies at a South African college or university.
- In South Africa private and public health systems exist in parallel.
- Basic primary health care is offered free by the state, but the richer citizens tend to pay for private health care services, which are far more advanced.
- Vaccinations are free of charge at all health facilities, and health workers are sent to nursery schools and crèches to immunize children wherever possible.
The South African people are proud people who live together in a nation of diversity. Many different ethnic groups exist in South Africa celebrating their many different traditions and cultures together.
South Africans love sport! The most popular spectator sports are soccer, rugby and cricket.
South Africans are described as loyal, friendly, hard working and committed people.
Three of the five fastest land animals live in South Africa – the cheetah (63 miles per hour), the wildebeest, and the lion.
The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
The world’s largest diamond was the Cullinan Diamond found in South Africa in 1905. It weighed 3,106.75 carats uncut. It was cut into the Great Star of Africa, weighing 530.2 carats, the Lesser Star of Africa, which weighs 317.40 carats, and 104 other diamonds of nearly flawless colour and clarity. They now form part of the British Crown Jewels.
South Africa’s 11 official languages have resulted in colorful additions to the English language, particularly in the use of colloquial terms such as:
lekker – nice, enjoyable
yebo – yes
braai – barbecue
cheers – goodbye and thank you
“This program has truly been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life.” – Leila, au pair from South Africa
“I met so many new friends and enjoyed learning more about the American life and culture. Au pairing was definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had and I would not exchange any of those memories for anything in the world.” – Jennifer, au pair from South Africa
“I learned new things, have grown personally, and exchanged cultures which also allowed me to share mine too.”– Nombuso, au pair from South Africa
“The most important thing is that, like my host mum said…, I am part of the team. I share their daily routine and I am lucky to be with my host family.”
Verena, au pair