QU students spend winter break in South Africa

Danielle Barbarich

Over winter break several Quinnipiac students spent a month in South Africa documenting their experiences as part of a production class that they were taking.

The first three weeks were spent at the Capetown Victoria & Albert Waterfront. Students there took museum trips and listened to lectures from the University of Capetown professors. One of the lectures discussed what the government and the media were doing to help raise AIDS awareness throughout the country. Alongside of all the educational experiences, Capetown offered the students a plethora of restaurants and live music performances.

“The Waterfront of Capetown is a Disneyland of shops and restaurants.” Jillian Beauman, Senior Public Relations Major said.

Beauman recalled her most memorable experience was during one of their visits to the townships outside Capetown. “The kids who live there were so excited to see what many of us wouldn’t give a second thought to. Their face stored on a picture on a digital camera. Some of the kids had never seen cameras like that. It makes you realize how lucky you are and appreciate what you have.”

The students also had the opportunity to spend five days on a safari. Beauman said professors Liam O’Brian and Rebecca Abbot were knowledgeable about the area and were, “walking resources” about the place.

“Seeing the animals in their natural habitats, sleeping in a tent for five days, seeing the stars under the sky that wasn’t filled with smog or skyscrapers are just a few of the things that I enjoyed while on safari. Living in fear of baboons breaking into my tent for five days was not,” Whittney Sutton, Junior English Major said

One of the disturbing parts of South Africa was the poverty. “The townships were ridiculously impoverished and the fact that the South African government really does nothing to help the people that live in those conditions still shocks me. I can’t bring myself to understand the concept of doing nothing to help your own people, and your people’s children rise out of practically unlivable circumstances,” Sutton said.

Sutton believes that there are close parallels between South Africa today and the America’s civil rights movement. While South Africa is celebrating 10 years of freedom from the Apartheid, Sutton thinks there is still social wariness and social segregation of color.

“Not one time there did I see multi-colored groups hanging out together. It was always whites on one side, blacks on the other, cape-colors over there and so on and so on. I feel that is the way it is in America. Yet for the most part the races get along and even mix social groups, but there is still suspicion, trust issues and ignorance between the races,” Sutton said.

The South Africa trip seems to have left the students more culturally, socially, and mentally mature. Sutton said,

“I gained more confidence in myself that I can be on my own in a strange environment with people that I don’t know and survive and do my thing, that I can be fearless. I had to step up a lot on this trip and not chicken out in certain situations like I normally would have. I acted out of character and, in a sense, gained more character. I feel like I definitely grew up as a person by going on this trip. As I said when I began, this was a life changing experience,” Sutton said.

Professor Abbot has created a Web site documenting their trip in South Africa. http://homepage.mac.com/rabbottmedia.mac/SouthAfrica/PhotoAlbum4.html