Tomorrow marks the start of The School of Social Work’s 8th study abroad tour in South Africa. Students from UNC, as well as visitors from other schools of social work across the country, will be joining clinical assistant professors Sharon Thomas and Dan Hudgins, as well as assistant professor Dr. Gina Chowa on a two week trip to both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Having grown up in Cape Town, South Africa, I can attest to the fact that for many of these students, this trip will be one of the most significant and inspiring journeys of their lives. South Africa is a land prime for examining social issues, development strategies, and health programs. The country is still in the midst of forming new social and economic systems, and participants will have the opportunity to visit significant governmental, non-governmental, neighborhood and community grassroots organizations, examining how the country responds to many of its social issues. Visits to local townships and cultural and tourist landmarks are some of the highlights of the trip, as students will interact with local peoples and gain a better understanding of life in post-Apartheid South Africa, including the continuous struggle with issues such as HIV/AIDS, political transitions, and racial and cultural clashes. South Africa also lends itself to an abundance of some of the most exotic animals on Earth, and I will be willing to bet that feeding giraffes, walking beside penguins, and seeing lions hunt will be experiences the participants will talk about for years to come. So I wish them all good luck, and I cannot wait to hear about their journey and the self-discovery that takes place along the way.
Until then, Totsiens ( Afrikaans for good bye).