International students in front of the Drostdy Arch.
Grahamstown is situated in the heart of Frontier Country; with the arrival of the 1820 settlers it became an important military post for the English. Traces of this history can still be found today. La Trattoria, the Italian restaurant that is fully booked every Tuesday in anticipation of its weekly 2 for 1 pasta special, is located in one of the oldest buildings in town. The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George, where a friend and I have attended Sunday services, is decorated with plaques celebrating the exploits of colonialists; racial and ethnic offensive language has been permanently covered by strips of marble. High Street was designed to be wide enough for horse-drawn wagons to turn around in. Read more
The university system in South Africa of course has its differences from that of the United States, but the similarities are clear: I attend classes, write papers, and study for exams. One course, however, has its students buzzing and pushes the boundaries of my comfort zone every day.
Joy, the lecturer for my anthropology class on Power and Wealth, has challenged us to take control of the course and our own education. She doesn’t give us lecture notes, she doesn’t assign weekly readings. We bow to each other at the beginning of every class to recognize each other’s knowledge and perspectives. We have discussions ranging from the feminization of poverty to the recent Student Representative Council elections on campus to racism in South Africa. Someone posts on the class Facebook page almost daily. Read more
Many students who study in South Africa go there with the intention of volunteering in some capacity. Whether it’s at a local orphanage, or a clinic in a neighboring township, the opportunities in almost all of interstudy’s program locations are plentiful. Many times universities have clubs or student run organizations that have established lasting relationships with local areas in need, and it is this sustainable, or continuous aid which is most helpful. While studying at Rhodes University, 4 of our interstudy alums made a big impact, and ended up leaving a lasting mark not only on a local community outside of Grahamstown, South Africa, but also in a grocery store near you. Read more