Fifteen University of Lynchburg students are exploring South African history and literature up close and in person this summer.
Dr. Lindsay Michie, history professor, and Dr. David Lipani, English professor, are leading a study abroad course titled “History of Apartheid and Literature of South Africa.” The students began by attending classes in Lynchburg to prepare them with a basic understanding of the course’s main topics. They traveled to South Africa on May 26, and they complete the trip next week.
The students spent two weeks based in Port Elizabeth. They attended classes on South Africa’s history, politics, literature, and culture at Nelson Mandela University. They also visited heritage sites, museums, and farms, where they milked cows and fed duiker and kudu—wild, sub-Saharan antelope—that were being rehabilitated there.
Last week, the group spent three days at Emmanuel Advice Care Center in Noxolo Township. The students participated in service learning by teaching and playing with the pre-school children, working in a garden, preparing meals, and helping patients travel to the organization’s clinic.
“The women who run the center had told us that they are always short of small plastic chairs and tables for the children, so we bought two tables and 15 chairs for the center,” Dr. Michie said in a recent e-mail from South Africa. “When we brought it to the teachers, they cried. Then our students on their own initiative took up a collection to contribute to the school fees that the parents of the children who attend can’t always pay. It was a very moving experience for everyone.”
The remainder of the trip includes a stop at Robben Island, where the civil rights leader Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for his leadership in the anti-apartheid movement, and a climb up South Africa’s iconic Table Mountain.
“We have a great bunch of students who have been enthusiastic and interested in everyone and everything here in South Africa, and acted as wonderful ambassadors for University of Lynchburg,” Dr. Michie said.