“Destination South Africa” is a new summer course that will offer students the ability to travel for three weeks to several cities in South Africa.
As part of the trip, students will tour three major South African cities: Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Capetown.
The program is sponsored by the Social Work Department of the College of Community and Public Affairs in collaboration with the Office of International Affairs, according to Binghamton University’s website.
In Johannesburg, students will experience a modern South African city while visiting sites that represent the city’s history, according to Katherine Krebs, vice provost of international education and director of international programs.
During their time in Bloemfontein, students will visit the University of the Free State, a former apartheid university. The UFS, which was founded as a white-only Afrikaner university, is now desegregated and offers classes in both Afrikaans and English.
Bloemfontein is home to a branch of “Leadership for Change,” an initiative that sends leaders to universities across the United States, including Binghamton University. This International Institute focuses their studies on race, reconciliation, social justice and international initiative.
Josephine Allen, a professor in the department of social work in the CCPA, will be the instructor of the course. Allen was a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa in 2008 and 2009.
He said the partnership with the University of the Free State will be good introduction to South Africa.
“It seemed to be a very good opportunity to provide a course that would offer an introduction to South Africa and a chance to look at their history and look at the way their transformation process is going on,” Allen said.
This year, UFS will host the partner institutions in Bloemfontein for what is known as a “Global Summit.”
Krebs elaborated on the Global Summit experience.
“The Global Summit is a two-week period of lectures, discussions and informal conversations exploring race relations in the countries of all participants,” Krebs said. “There will be considerable focus on the South African experience with visits to local organizations that are working to solve problems and support communities. Leadership training is an important component.”
Each student involved is expected to participate in the Global Summit. They will attend lectures while interacting with students from around the world.
Allen explained that the trip focuses on issues of transformation, social justice, leadership, reconciliation and the importance of unifying faculty, staff and students at the university.
Broader destabilizing issues involving the enormous income gap, and massive inequality in education, employment, housing and access to health care will also be stressed.
“One of the University’s strategic missions is to have a greater international presence,” Allen said.
Following Bloemfontein, students will travel to Capetown, where they will visit the University of the Western Cape, an institution that used to be blacks only, but is now desegregated.
The Western Cape is a significant location in which students can learn firsthand about the transformations South Africa has undergone, Krebs said.
Allen looks forward to having students from BU interact with students from both South Africa and around the world.
“I hope the students will have a really wonderful opportunity to interact with students and faculty not only from South Africa, but other places in the world,” Allen said. “I hope that students’ perspectives will be broadened and they will have an opportunity to make connections that will extend beyond this experience.”
Those interested can attend an information session at noon today on the third floor of the Engineering Building in room Q20. A second session will also be held at noon Thursday, March 1 at the same location.