Home Institution

University of Southern California

Publication Date

Fall 2014

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


This project took me to Sandanezwe, KwaZulu-Natal, a rural village outside of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where a community member, Mpume Khanyezi, had originally asked me to design and build a new home for her family. I intended to engage in a heuristic inquiry so that I could complete a daily practice of letting go of my own opinions and immersing myself in the community in order to better act as a scribe for the mother and analyze the community objectively. I attempted to gather qualitative data through interviews, active participation, direct observations with village members and building parties. Ultimately, my aim was to understand the influences of culture, socio-economic conditions and the environment on the house. In the end, my house design was not realized due to miscommunication and uncontrollable circumstances. I found that the houses here reflect the simple and imperfect aspects of the surrounding environment and largely demonstrate the culture inherent of these predominantly Zulu tribes people. This experience helped me to realize that houses here simply represent a means to an end and it is the relationships within that matter. The level of humility that I observed in the houses held a mirror up to my own life, and pushed me further toward my own personal growth. I came to South Africa, and more specifically Sandanezwe, in order to break down my paradigms and to learn.


Growth and Development | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Rural Sociology


Article Location