Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Dispatch: South Africa

TWENTY-YEARS after South Africa's infamous system of apartheid ended in 1994, are those who were "Born Free" experiencing substantially better lives in the country that prides itself as the Rainbow Nation? This was the question that 11 Temple University students examined during their participation in Temple's School of Media and Communication 2014 South Africa Study Away Program.

The "study" portion of the program provided presentations from various experts, field trips and interactions with "Born Frees" to enhance understandings of South Africa's complex society - one remarkably similar to the United States yet markedly different.

Students stayed in the Melville suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city. They conducted reporting and research centered primarily on Johannesburg, or Joburg as it is commonly known. Students got into sections and slices of the vibrant Joburg that residents there rarely see.

Reporting and research also took some students into townships outside Joburg like Orange Farm south of Soweto, over onto South Africa's Eastern Cape and down to Cape Town, the country's "Mother City." Students used traditional reporting techniques and social media to find sources and resources. All of their work was done with mobile media (smartphones, iPod rigs and DSLR cameras).

Immersions in Joburg produced unique experiences for students, with one being invited to give a series of motivational talks to teen mothers, one appearing as a panelist on a program at Wits University and one performing at "spoken word" events.

Spending four weeks in South Africa enabled these students to both learn more about the Rainbow Nation and learn "from" South Africa.

- Linn Washington Jr., Temple University

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