For ACC student Clare, Colorado is nice but South Africa beckons

Brooklyn Clare in Sun City, South Africa.

Image via Courtesy Brooklyn Clare

Brooklyn Clare in Sun City, South Africa.

Anthony Shaw, Arapahoe Pinnacle Reporter

If anyone understands diversity, it’s Brooklyn Clare.

This ACC student was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and lived there until she was 8. Her father still lives there, and she visits whenever she can.

When people who haven’t been to South Africa think of that nation, some think of walking out the back door while using high caution for lions. In fact, it is nothing like that.

“Johannesburg is a big city like Denver,” Clare said. “It’s a mile high above sea level and the weather during the summer months mirrors that of ours – hot and sunny in the daytime and thunderstorms in the afternoons.”

What most people don’t know about South Africa is the poverty that surrounds the major cities. Forty million blacks and six million whites inhabit the country. The majority of the upper class is white, but since apartheid – a system of discrimination based on race – ended, blacks are able to make more of an impact in society.

Clare says the city is surrounded by a “township,” which essentially is a slum. She has seen the conditions in which people live, and they are far worse than any project housing in the United States, she says.

Millions of the poor live in “squatterhouse” shacks made of cardboard, tin and rocks, she says. When Nelson Mandela became leader of the nation, he set up low-income housing for blacks. Low-income houses are single-bedroom brick homes, an upgrade from the “squatterhouse” shacks others live in.

Asked if she’d ever partaken in community service there, she said, “To the people of South Africa, it’s normal, it’s part of their culture to live like that.”

Clare says she prefers South Africa over the United States.

“The mountains are great and all, but my dad lives on the coast now in St. Francis Bay, which is known as a vacation spot and it’s my paradise,” she said.

Clare’s father’s side of the family is from South Africa, and her mother’s side is from Denver. She graduated high school a semester early in December of 2013. She took a year off from school and worked.

She is considering getting her associate’s degree, but will go to a four-year school eventually (she isn’t sure which one). She likes it at ACC a lot because the “clique-thing” doesn’t exist here. Brooklyn excels socially in the classroom because she is funny, cool, and understands diversity very well.

“Everyone accepts that everyone is coming from a different part in life,” she said. “I just get along with whoever’s sitting next to me.”