Travelers look ahead to South African immersion

By Robert Riches
February 1, 2012


Students, faculty and staff of the college are anticipating a three-week immersion project to South Africa this coming June.

The trip, which is tentatively scheduled to start on June 1 and conclude on June 25, promises to be an interesting learning experience for everybody involved.

“This trip does not focus on service, it focuses on immersion,” Roxanne De La Torre, of the Wolfington Center, said. “It is important for us as humans to understand how people live in other parts of the world.”

“I learned about the trip through a friend of mine and I am really excited about applying,” Felicia Melvin, senior communication major, said.

The immersion trip to South Africa is part of a pilot for future Engagements with the Common Good classes, which are to be run from the Wolfington Center.

“We are looking to live in solidarity with people of South Africa,” De La Torre said, “and experience the culture and poverty of a country with a huge HIV and AIDS problem.”

Those on the immersion trip will also get the opportunity to work with Grandmothers against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA).

“GAPA is basically an organization of grandmothers who lost their children to AIDS, and had to become parents again to their grandchildren in a new generation,” De La Torre said. “Nowadays there’s sex education and AIDS education, which GAPA did not have available when they raised their children.”

In addition, the trip will focus on an instrumental part of South Africa’s history: apartheid.

“We hope to gain an understanding about the history of South Africa,” De La Torre said. “South Africa and the United States both have had similar problems with racism and apartheid.”

Apartheid was racial segregation enforced by the South African government and came to an end in 1994.

“We want to learn where South Africa is after apartheid and where it will go,” De La Torre said.

The trip should provide a tremendous opportunity to learn from, and promises to hold memories that will last a lifetime.  Considering that it is part of a pilot program, it may even lead to more trips like this down the road.

“We hope that Cabrini continues its partnership with South Africa in the future,” De La Torre said.

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Robert Riches

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