Study Abroad in Africa
Led by the Director of OACS and affiliated faculty member in the Departments of Political Science and Medicine, Health and Society and Africa at A Crossroads, Dr. Clive Mentzel (a native South African), the service project in South Africa is aimed at understanding the systemic injustices deeply entrenched within society post the racist and oligarchic apartheid dictatorship that existed in the country until 1994. Despite democratization and the dismantling of apartheid in 1994, the legacy of its brutal political oppression continues to afflict South Africans, and millions still suffer the ramifications of the brutal and oppressive past. These include, but are not limited to, desperate poverty, little or no access to basic services such as water and sewage systems, lack of access to basic health services, and inadequate educational opportunities. The overall intent of the South Africa Project is, within the context of a faculty-led and mindful and reflective experience, to provide a dynamic opportunity for Vanderbilt students to engage in meaningful service in some of the most marginalized areas of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. For some students this is also a powerful and immersive way to understand what it means to be a society in transition, as South Africa’s transition away from its apartheid past is unique and insightful for those wishing to understand, through the lens of service, the nature of the transitional experience first-hand.
Located on North Africa’s western coast, Morocco is an ethnically, culturally, and geographically diverse nation with a rich political and social history. In partnership with the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in Rabat, the OACS Global Service Program in Morocco aims to provide a comprehensive service-learning experience whereby students are immersed in Moroccan culture and society, while serving alongside locally run organizations to build capacity and address salient social injustices. The six-week program’s multi-pronged, holistic approach includes 20 hours of preparatory spring seminars, living-learning home-stay accommodations with families in the Rabat medina, a peer-supported cohort model, structured group and individual reflection sessions led by a qualified site leader, and skills-based service site placements at local NGOs focused on human rights, immigration, women’s rights, and education. Ultimately, through delving into community-identified needs related to inequity and justice at their service sites, students gain a greater understanding of the inter-connectedness of humankind and of the vital importance of global citizenship.