The year 2020 marks a quarter century of the collaboration between the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies and University of Delaware’s (UD) Study Abroad program. This year a group of twenty-seven students and their two Professors, Norma Gaines-Hanks from the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences and Francis Kwansa of the Department of Hospitality Business Management, were welcomed to the University of Pretoria by Professor Karen Harris, Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies.
The Study Abroad program forms part of UD’s Institute for Global Studies (IGS), which pursues global understanding through programs of study, experiential learning and partnerships. An important objective of the Institute is to help develop UD students into global citizens. In the South African study abroad program students enroll for a course entitled “Culture in Context: South Africa” as well as a series of talks on South African history presented by Prof Harris, along with 50 hours of community service at child care centres in Pretoria and Cape Town. The students also participate in various cultural excursions including tours of Johannesburg and Soweto and a weekend at the Madikwe Game Reserve.
Prof Harris became involved in the South African study abroad project from its inception in 1995/1996 and has continued to present classes providing an overview of South African history ever since. She says she is always intrigued by the positive way the UD students respond to the history course as well as the comparisons they make with their own history. This year the UD students were the first group to have the UP Javett Art Centre form part of their UP Campus tour, led by Masters’ student Danolien van den Berg. A selection of these art works were also included in the history course Professor Harris presented. Professor Kwansa says these sessions with Prof Harris over the last 25 years have provided UD students with an intellectual and practical appreciation for the history and culture of the South African people. One of the fond memories of students is Prof Harris’ skill and enthusiasm in making South African history interesting on a hot South African afternoon.
The success of this program is evident in the fact that in 2019 Gaines-Hanks was named UD “Faculty Director of the Year” for having run the Study Abroad programs for 20 years. She coordinated and taught her first study abroad program in 1999 and has since successfully mentored over 450 UD students in both South Africa and Barbados. Prof Harris states she is proud to have her Department affiliated with this venture.
After the conclusion of the program in Pretoria, the UD students go to Cape Town where there are a few more opportunities for volunteer work, cultural exchanges and excursions.