A group of twenty-six students and two professors from the University of Delaware (UD) were welcomed at the University of Pretoria (UP) by Professor Alois Mlambo, Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, on Monday, 16 January 2017.
The meeting was a result of the firm international relationship between UP and UD through the Service-Learning Study Abroad Programme. The University of Delaware has been sponsoring a study abroad programme during its annual four week long January Winter session since 1996. In total approximately 450 students have participated in the programme. The distinguishing aspect of this study abroad programme is its emphasis on 'service-learning'. In addition to academic courses, students engage in service-learning placements at a range of sites, including primary schools and orphanages/child care facilities in townships around Pretoria.
Since the inception of the programme in 1996, Prof Karen Harris, professor in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies and Director of the UP Archives, has been teaching the History of South Africa course, which is always exceptionally well received by the international students. In addition to this course, students enroll for additional courses, which are taught by the two UD visiting professors. The programme also includes various cultural excursions, including tours of Johannesburg and Soweto, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, and Madikwe Game Reserve.
Dr Lana Harrison, professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at UD, has been co-director of the programme since 2009, and 2017 marks her fifth visit to UP. 'It has been my pleasure to be on your campus several times since 2009. It is such a beautiful campus and we are incredibly appreciative of the relationship we have with UP,' she says. She is particularly pleased that UD students do not only participate in the winter programme, but also often come to spend a semester at UP during their regular school year, while students from UP are in turn welcomed at UD as part of an exchange relationship.
Dr Harrison expresses the hope that the relationship between UP and UD will continue for a long time. 'My students gained so much from their time there, they learnt so much about your country and also about their own country by comparing the two,' she adds.
Dr Robert Nelson, associate professor of Hospitality Business Management at UD calls himself 'the new kid on the block' and also thoroughly enjoyed his visit to UP. Dr Nelson is responsible for the Ecotourism Management course, while Dr Harrison teaches the HIV/AIDS and Crime in South Africa course at UD.
Upon conclusion of the programme at UP, it will move to Cape Town where there will be some more opportunities for cultural exchanges.