Study Abroad in South Africa

In the summer of 2015, I went to South Africa on a study abroad with the College of Education. We traveled cross-country to study the education system of the country after apartheid. We studied urban schools, rural schools, and schools that were segregated before Apartheid. We had a chance to talk and interact with the students, teachers, and staff at theses schools. Many of the negative effects can still be seen. Schools are underfunded and the previously white only schools are still segregated. The racial climate if very similar to that of the US.

 

Not only did I learn about their educational system, I learned about the different cultures. I dined on traditional cuisines, watched traditional dances, visited the township of Soweto, and spent a day in a traditional Xhosa village. I also had the opportunity to visit an elephant sanctuary and a tiger sanctuary, bungee jumped off the world's tallest bungee bridge, went on an African safari, and to toured various museums such as Robben Island, Nelson Mandela Museum, and the Apartheid Museum.

 

This experience inspired me to become a leader and an activist for my students. When I interacted with the students and staff at the schools, they all wanted to give their students a quality education. One school stood out to me the most. It was an elementary school in a rough township. The principal created opportunities for her students that they would have been denied otherwise. She created a computer lab and enlisted community gang members to help protect her investment. She created a school garden to help feed the kids who came to school hungry and made sure every student ate every single day. She raised the funds to turn an empty shipping container into a library. When she wasn't running the school, she also was a math teacher to her students. She was an inspiration to me because she was so dedicated to serving her students. She recognized what her students needed to be successful and sought out to give it to them.

 

Another thing I took away from my study abroad trip was the cultural experience. It was amazing to be fully immersed in a culture that was different than my own. These experiences include food, village tours, talking to people, and learning the language. It was especially rewarding to me to learn about various African cultures from the motherland. This experience has made me want to visit South Africa again and other African countries.