Story by Melanie Buck
Drake students are traveling abroad to South Africa in May and June to learn first-hand about race relations and analyze the ways the people of South Africa tell stories of their past, present and future.
Everything students see ties back into the learning component of the trip.
“It was a fun trip. I had a blast. I’ve learned so much. It’s such an eye-opening experience in so many different ways,” said Zach Wright, a junior pharmacy student at Drake University.
He went on the trip his first year at Drake.
Students participating in “Seeing South Africa: Storytelling and Race Relations,” will see two of its major cities, Johannesburg and Cape Town, and spend several days at a lodge in the Kruger National Park area.
Melisa Klimaszewski, an associate English professor, leads the trip with Yasmina Madden, a visiting instructor of English at Drake.
The trip will take place from May 20 to June 10.
Students must register by Dec 14.
Students can apply with the Drake Horizons application.
Once accepted, a $500 deposit is due to secure a spot on the trip.
Along with the trip, there will be four pre-departure meetings on campus.
During those meetings, participants will go over travel logistics, materials and assignments.
The pre-trip work consists of a variety of readings and videos
These include films, non-fictional writing, oral narratives, fictional writing and poetry.
“You have a lot of class work going on. I was able to fit in all the pre-work beforehand pretty easily,” Wright said.
The travel seminar is worth six summer credits and meets two AOIs, including global & multicultural and written communication. It also counts toward Drake’s Honors Program.
The trip is open to any major and grade level and there are no pre-requisites.
“You don’t have to be an expert in the class, and you don’t have to already know anything about South Africa,” Klimaszewski said.
The final cost of the trip is around $6,000 to $6,200.
This includes airfare, hotel, tuition, transportation, daily breakfast, professional guides and all museum-entrance fees.
The trip is eligible for additional 2014-2015 financial aid.
“Remember that you would be spending that money to earn six credits if you stay on campus. You are spending that money to not just earn six credits but have a really innovative and different learning experience in another country,” Madden said.
Uncovered expenses include pre-trip material and spending money while on the trip, which includes lunch and dinner most days, souvenirs, snacks, laundry and toiletries.
While on the trip, students will explore different sites in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Some of the sites they will visit include The Apartheid Museum, The Cradle of Humankind, Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s Cell, Constitution Hill, Soweto and Hector Peterson Memorial, Iziko Slave Lodge, Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, Tours of the University of Witzwaderstand and the University of Cape Town.
Students will also experience the Kruger National Park area.
While at Kruger National Park, students will stay in a lodge.
They will go on game drives, seeing lions, elephants and other native safari animals.
“Students have enjoyed this aspect of the trip so much and got enough out of it, not just because it was different and fun but that learning experience of being ‘out in the bush’ and seeing rural communities was quite interesting and different for them,” Madden said. “It was extended because it was so productive for students.”
Throughout the trip, students will reflect and journal every day about what they have experienced and how it impacted them.
“You have a lot of fun, but there is a lot of learning behind it but it was very natural learning.” Wright said. “It was much more organic, much more about your understanding about the material. You learn a lot about yourself being out of your comfort zone.”
“The entire point of the trip is to analyze the culture and how these stories are being told and the disparity in how people live,” Madden said.
Students are required to complete a final project, which is a 20-page paper.
“Don’t freak out. The prompt for the paper gives you a lot of room to write about whatever your interest is in the trip,” Wright said. “It didn’t actually take that long to write. Once you get going, it’s not that hard. Before you get back you will already have an idea, and you will get plenty of help to do it.”
When students get back, there will be an optional two days of class post-travel.
It allows time for students to decompress and discuss the trip with each other.
“You have two people who will really put a lot of effort into helping you learn a lot and keeping you safe and making it worth every penny,” Klimaszewski said. “That is the part I can promise you.”