Student Leadership Initiative, Africa

Seven members of SMU’s recently formed Student Leadership Initiative (SLI) are in Rwanda, Uganda and Johannesburg during May 2012. The students are researching human rights issues and empowerment solutions for three African countries recovering from decades of genocide, war, famine, disease and apartheid. Pat Davis, associate director of the Embrey Human Rights Program, is accompanying them on the program.

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Johannesburg

An update from Hayley, a junior majoring in anthropology and French. She is also blogging here.

Yesterday morning we arrived in Johannesburg after a VERY early flight.  It looks just like the U.S., which is quite a shock after Kampala.  We are staying in an awesome guesthouse and got to talk a lot with the owner and architect. It’s so beautiful.

Our first stop was the Apartheid museum, which was the biggest museum I’ve ever seen.  We spent two hours there, but could have probably spent 20 there was so much reading.  It was really interesting, especially because none of us have really studied Apartheid before. I learned a lot but it was very overwhelming!

We went to dinner at a yummy French cafe and then to bed early, which was nice.

Today we went to the University of Witswatersrand, which houses the International Human Rights Exchange. We talked to the director, a professor and a student, and I’ve definitely decided that I want to study abroad here in the Spring!! The campus is beautiful and the program houses one of the only human rights programs with an internship to supplement coursework. Katie and I are so excited to study here!

We had a brief talk with the owner of the guesthouse and her experiences with Apartheid.  Interestingly, she grew up in a racially mixed family and interracial communication was normal for her. She told us that Apartheid, although supported by law, was bound to fail because it was not universally practiced. We went shopping and to an awesome restaurant called Melon tonight, and tomorrow we’re going on a safari!! So excited!

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