Windsor, N.J. - Student Anabell Reyes admits that she did
not know a lot about South Africa when she arrived there on
July 16 with 10 students and three administrators from Mercer
County Community College's Study Abroad program. But the lessons
she learned during her two-week visit will last a lifetime.
"I truly learned the meaning of the word 'forgiveness'
and it will stick with me for the rest of my life," said
Reyes, who observed that the South Africans she met have been
focused on moving forward since the end of apartheid in the
1990s. Reyes shared her comments with her fellow travelers
at a post-trip wrap-up session on August 15 at the West Windsor
"This is learning that goes way beyond the boundaries
of the traditional classroom," said Associate Professor
Andrea Lynch, MCCC's Study Abroad program coordinator. "We
will be pulling significance from this trip for a long time
According to Lynch, the trip was heavily focused on academics
and the daily schedule was demanding. She noted proudly, "We
all stayed focused and stayed the course. It seemed like everyone
had fun while we worked hard."
Led by Tribal Meeting Tours, the group's guides proved a wealth
of knowledge. "I want to thank our tour guides. They
not only knew a lot, they had lived through it," said
student Sierra Downs.
Destination cities included Cape Town and Johannesburg and
many cultural, historical, religious, academic and natural
sites including the Apartheid Museum, Slave Lodge, Robben
Island Prison, District Six Museum, University of Western
Cape, Table Mountain, the Nelson Mandela House, an HIV orphanage,
Pilanesburg Game Reserve, Cape Point and Penguin Beach.
Students expressed awe at just about every aspect of the trip
-- from their interactions with local people and the historically
signficant sites they visited, to the beauty of the countryside
and the thrill of seeing wild animals in their natural habitat.
They also took some time to enjoy the music and food of South
Africa and to purchase jewelry and other souvenirs from local
Three students, Downs, Gerri Benjamin and Linda Robison, went
on the trip as part of the curriculum in their African-American
History course (HIS109), taught by Dr. Deborah Sanders. During
the wrap-up session, they presented their research projects,
drawing from course materials richly informed by their experience.
All three students found striking similarities between the
American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and South Africa's
Anti-Apartheid Movement that took place over several decades
in the latter part of the 20th Century. Robison, who focused
her research on unsung heroes in both movements, was particularly
moved by a sign she saw at the famous Regina Mundi Catholic
Church in Soweto that read, "People who remember the
struggle strive to do better." Robison noted that she
has returned home with a changed perspective. "I want
to do better. I want to make a difference," she said.
Professor Sanders herself was moved by the student presentations.
"You should applaud yourselves. You absorbed a great
deal of information. You have touched my heart with all you
Added Lynch, "I hope you have developed a love for travel
and learning and an appreciation of cultural differences.
We had an intensive, ambitious schedule and we got to do everything
we set out to do."
more photos of the South Africa tour and photos from other
trips, visit the Study Abroad Facebook page here.
Tours planned for the coming academic year include: "Costa
Rica - Science and Society," led by faculty members
Dr. Gianna Durso-Finley (Sociology) and Laura Blinderman (Biology)
from March 16-23; and "Warsaw - The Holocaust,"
led by faculty members Dr. Craig Coenen (History) and Dr.
Jack Tabor (English) from May 24-June 2.
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Table Mountain, kneeling front, Langston Lynch, Gerri Benjamin
and Erykah Jones; back from left, Sierra Downs, Study Abroad
Coordinator Andrea Lynch, Linda Robison (back), Ruth Shuler,
Bernadette Eichinger, Andrea Jackson, MCCC President Patricia
Donohue, Suzieann Bennett, Anabell Reyes, and Director of
Library Services Pam Price.