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South Africa Study Abroad
By Dr. David LeBaron

South Africa Study Abroad

Given a choice would you rather spend January in beautiful, summery South Africa or would you prefer to stay in cold, wintery Maryland? Thirteen SU and University of Maryland students opted for the former by participating in the first Salisbury University study abroad program in South Africa. This group, led by Perdue School faculty members Dr. Jonathan Munemo and myself, spent 18 days experiencing the culture and commerce of South Africa while studying at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

After more than 30 hours of travel, our group arrived in Johannesburg and immediately boarded a bus headed to world-famous Kruger National Park. The wildlife were out in full force, and we were fortunate to see all of "the Big 5" (elephant, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, lion and leopard) along with giraffes, hippos, zebras, wildebeests and numerous other animals during our two days in the park. One of the highlights of our time in Kruger was a traditional nighttime "boma braai," or barbecue, out in the bush. One student noted: "I am still shocked when I reflect about sitting in the middle of a wildlife park eating South African cuisine by candlelight."

The remainder of the trip was spent at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, which is located in Bellville, a northern suburb of Cape Town. The students attended lectures in the mornings and went on company visits in the afternoons. Lecture topics included leadership, the economics of South Africa, business scenarios, information and communication technology, marketing, and development finance. The lectures helped us appreciate the great challenges and great opportunities facing South Africa. One participant said: "I feel like learned so much in just a few short lectures."

The company visits exposed students to the wide range of economic activities in South Africa. Students particularly enjoyed visiting several of the beautiful wine estates in the Stellenbosch region. In addition to wineries, we went to an apple-growing cooperative, a regional distribution center of a grocery store chain, the Sustainability Institute and the Cheetah Conservancy, which afforded us the opportunity to actually pet some cheetahs.

The evenings and weekends gave us the chance to explore the area around Cape Town. One of our excursions was to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, which offers spectacular views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. We also drove to the southern tip of Africa at Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope and spent some time at Camp’s Bay enjoying the warm weather. The more adventurous members of the group went to Gans Bay where they were able to get into a shark tank and watch Great White sharks in their natural habitat. Needless to say, the faculty advisors chose to stay on terra firma during that activity.

Our trip to South Africa was a great success. Students described the trip as "life changing" and a "once-in-a-lifetime experience." Perhaps the greatest compliment came from Charmaine Kapp, one our hosts at the University of Stellenbosch, who said: "We were indeed privileged to have hosted such a great group on campus. You may be proud with the students who were great ambassadors for Salisbury."




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