I hoped that our students would be able to compare modern criminal justice approaches in the US and South Africa, particularly through the lens of historical influences such as segregation and apartheid. Additionally, I wanted the students to understand how poverty, race, gender, and culture can affect experiences and perspectives.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My college's Study Abroad coordinator was instrumental in contacting the program provider, organizing the itinerary, and negotiating prices and needs. I only had to approve the itinerary and recruit students for the trip. I was lucky to have such a helpful, organized coordinator, and the EDU Africa was extraordinary in providing my students and me with a life-changing experience.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would advise someone to ask about courtesy when visiting people's homes. After we visited a particular location, I contacted our host (who provided lunch, conversation, and dancing for my group and me). I asked if she had any recommendations for us for the next time, and she said that it would be appreciated if we brought small gifts for the ladies in the group.
Also, I'm going to encourage my next group of students to remember that many times, the accommodations may be smaller than they expect. Because we stayed in hostels in major cities (Johannesburg and Cape Town), the rooms were smaller than they were typically accustomed to in parts of the United States.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Each day was jam packed with activities and learning experiences. Be prepared to wake up early and meet a wide variety of people from community members to magistrates and attorneys to museum docents. Students should be prepared to think critically about the issues and topics, ask questions, and reflect on what they learned.
In Cape Town, the students were able to explore the area, dine out, and enjoy the night life!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Before we left, I was nervous that many of my students would be nervous or hesitant to immerse themselves in the culture. They surprised me, though, because many of them jumped right in! They asked questions, tried new foods, danced with local community members, and explored areas that were completely new and foreign to them. I was really proud of them for their willingness to learn, especially because many of them had never left the country to experienced urban settings before the trip.
For future trips, I will continue to encourage students to be open-minded and inquisitive, and I will remember that my students will constantly surprise me!
What was your favorite part of the trip?
My favorite part of the trip was our tour guides, Nompilo and Alfonso. They were so helpful and fun! They made sure that they answered all of our questions, made sure we were always safe, and consistently went above and beyond the call of duty. Both were incredibly knowledgeable, and they often explained or clarified things based on their own perspectives. I'm lucky to now call them my friends, and I look forward to seeing them again soon!
The entire trip was incredible for me. I had been to Johannesburg in 2012 for an academic conference, but it paled in comparison to this trip. I learned so much about the rich history and many cultures that make up South Africa, and meeting people and hearing their experiences made each activity and interaction meaningful and intimate. I feel like there's so much more to learn, and I can't wait to go back. I thank EDU Africa, Nomplio, Alfonso, and Sara (SVC Study Abroad Coordinator) for the amazing opportunity!