On May 15, 2023, faculty from the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership led 16 scholars on a transformative study abroad experience in South Africa. Nine Oprah Winfrey scholars participated in the Oprah Winfrey South Africa Leadership Program, while seven Social Justice and SMASH scholars participated in the South Africa Social Justice Experience. These exciting study abroad programs included visits to Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pilanesburg National Preserve, Durban, and Cape Town, South Africa. The program included meetings with community leaders and university and other academic officials, faculty, and students. University visits included the University of the Pretoria, and the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town, and the University of South Africa.
Engaging and informative visits to the Mandela Foundation (Johannesburg), the Gandhi foundation (Durban), where scholars completed a portion of the Freedom Trail, and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation (Cape Town), allowed scholars to explore the lives, accomplishments, challenges, and leadership philosophies of these great leaders.
Visits to historic sites and organizations documenting the history of Apartheid and preserving the legacy of the fight for freedom and justice in South Africa allowed students to learn the extraordinary history of colonization, Apartheid, and revolution in South Africa. These visits included the Apartheid Museum, the Hector Pieterson Museum, Mandela House, and Robben Island. Scholars experienced Cape Town’s Slave Lodge to learn about the roles of enslaved peoples in the building of the economy and infrastructure of South Africa.
Scholars engaged with students at the African Leadership Academy and visited the offices of NBA Africa, where they enjoyed a presentation by Morehouse alumnus and NBA Africa COO George Land. A day of service at the Mahou AIDS Orphanage allowed scholars to serve food, play soccer with the children, and helped to enhance the physical space.
Scholars appreciated the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of South Africa through excursions to Pilanesberg National Park, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and the Cape of Good Hope.
Throughout the experience, scholars responded to daily prompts by providing written reflections of their experiences and knowledge gained. These reflections served as the basis for e-portfolios documenting scholars’ learning about South Africa and themselves. Evening meetings allowed scholars to discuss the history, politics, and culture of South Africa as well as to explore and compare social justice issues in the United States and South Africa.