Study away 2007: Voices from around the globe
Communities Promoting Peace (English 216)
Learn how four crucial social institutions work to promote peace, health and justice in their society. Visit and participate in activities in the courts, the arts, churches, and schools, as well as meet with community leaders striving to bring health and prosperity to their people. Learn More »
In my time as a communication and global studies major, I have been exposed to a plethora of academic readings that reiterate the imminent nature of conflict. As such, I am excited to explore the different institutions or communities that have promoted peace following apartheid in South Africa. It is quite encouraging on the whole-for international conflict resolution-that these organizations have been paramount in pursuing peace and social justice. Moreover, we as students of this globalized generation and university have the opportunity to share the South African’s histories and messages with our own discoveries as our exposure to new perspectives begins.
It's the Sunday before finals week and I'm sitting at my computer, bundled in sweat pants and slippers, and listening to George Winston's December--pretty, sleepy, piano music. I'm not terribly worried about my tests this week, but I'm a bit worried that I'm not more worried... It's all just one more hurdle before I get to leave the dreary, damp North West winter and fly to the other side of the world, where it's nice and warm. By searching the web for weather info, I see that Cape Town is experiencing some pleasant weather: highs in the upper 70s, lows near 60--and that sounds real nice right about now...
Only about four busy weeks before departure for the southernmost tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. Before winging in -- on January 10th -- to arguably the world's most beautiful city, Cape Town, our group of twenty-two will have met four times to learn, share, and plan for the reality of being in South Africa. Nestled on the water's edge at the foot of famous Table Mountain, Cape Town makes a spectacular entre to Africa.
For me this journey is a home-coming. Born and raised in South Africa, I am excited to share with students some of the changes South Africa has made since Apartheid days. As a professor in the English department at PLU for nearly 17 years, my teaching has often focused on South African literatures, and our study away course, "Communities Promoting Peace: the Schools, the Arts, the Church, and the Courts," is unique and varied. Students have demonstrated their intense interest in the course by completing much of the reading before Christmas; I'm delighted to be traveling with such a dedicated group of learners.
I just got all my shots for the trip finally and ouch! I had to get four, two in each arm! I'm glad to be finishing up the fall semester and begin J-term. I find myself reading and rereading the Itinerary for the trip. I'm getting so excited to do all the amazing things we have planned.
I am FINALLY done with finals and feel like I have a few weeks to relax a little more before we take off. I am moved back into my parent's house and enjoying my mom's cooking (I also watched about 5 hours of TV yesterday just because I could...) and getting ready for the trip.
I am really excited to go to Africa; I can't believe we leave so soon! Despite to stress of packing (I am always a little nervous that I have too much or not enough, etc.) I can't wait until we leave.
Last summer I went to the United Nations on a trip with PLU as well and I was frustrated at talking so much about world issues but not getting to see them or have the chance to change them. I went into that trip with a lot of excitement because I am really interested in world issues and helping people in need in terms of humanitarian aid. I was really disappointed at the lack of passion I saw with some of the groups we met with and with the diplomats. In other words, it made me realize that a political body like the United Nations was definitely not the place for me.
Finals may be over, but my mind is still racing a million miles an hour. South Africa is only a few weeks away, and I have work to do. Procrastination has always been a weakness of mine, but I am actually eager to work through the pile of books that has been collecting dust since September. How will I be spending my beloved winter break? Learing about the country I am about to experience first hand!
It's been a year since my first study abroad experience when I ventured Australia exploring Sydney, Uluru and the Queensland stretch. I'm hungry for the new experiences that arise from travel and I'm looking forward to sharing these experiences with fellow travelers. Our group of students seems diverse and I'm excited to see what each of us will bring to the dynamic of the whole. I imagine this class will force me to see the world in a new light, as many new experiences do.
It is freezing cold in Minnesota! I am a native Minnesotan and should be used to the frigid temperatures, but according to my family, my time in Washington has made me weak! I am surviving, mostly due to the trusty heat that warms my cozy house, but also because my mind is immersed in the world of South Africa.
As a Social Work and Spanish major, I am fascinated by issues of injustice, conflict, and poverty and how social services interact with these issues. From my beginning research of South African history and culture over the past few months, I know that this experience will introduce me to many new thoughts and challenges.
Preparing for a journey to the African continent has left me bewildered, an unfamiliar emotion in my life, as a self-proclaimed "control freak"! My emotions and sentiments have ranged from uncontrollable nerves, to fear and so much joy and gratitude for the opportunity. I know this trip will be life-changing by encouraging questions, that may someday lead to answers, while building on past experiences and creating new memories and opportunities. I am fascinated to study education in South Africa: it's role in society, the value it holds and the pedagogies.
While studying with PLU at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland this summer, my research focused on peace education programs sponsored by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Both of these agencies have adopted very successful and broad-reaching educational programs as a part of an intergovernmental organization, to change the paradigm of a culture towards peace. But, within the state of South Africa, how does the government sponsor or encourage, if all, pedagogies founded in peace? Studying the transfer of this model from the intergovernmental to the state level will be of supreme interest to me as we watch the evolution of communities promoting peace.
So, I finally figured out how to work this blog... so here I am. I can't believe that I am leaving for Africa in two days! I've spent half my life living in the United Kingdom, but I've never traveled outside the Western Hemisphere. I'm expecting a bit of culture shock, but I'm ready for it! I'm excited for it! I'm excited for something different. I'm definitely ready for a different climate! I love Seattle, but all this rain is getting to me. I'm so excited that its the middle of summer in the southern half of the globe!
I used to be very nervous about the trip. Heck, I was nervous about my study abroad last Jterm, and that was to Canada! I tend to get nervous when I don't know what to expect about the future. However, now that I've finished the reading material for the course in South Africa, I feel a lot less nervous. I'm actually rather excited. It will be amazing to have the opportunity to actually get the chance to see what I've been reading about. I'm so excited for everything to be tangible, rather than trying to abstractly extract the information from books and other sources. And while books can be full of great information, we all know its nothing like actually being there.
Today I took a moment and thought about that feeling you get when waiting on the tarmac to return home after a perspective changing experience. It is hard to believe that a month from now that scenario will by my reality. The prep has been to fill my mind with information and background. South Africa seems so innovative and ground-breaking in the country’s response as a whole to such horrific historical events. Come Tuesday I am going to gear up to pay attention, keep my eyes wide open, and take it all in. I am full of curiosity to compare this trip to travels and things I saw or learned in Latin American developing countries.