Rising sophomore, Matthew Smith is majoring in history and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as minoring in peace and conflict studies. This summer, he attended a May-term, faculty-led, study abroad program to South Africa. This program was open to students of all majors, as it examined the specific problems that South Africa has and continues to deal with due to apartheid. Students learned about the history of South Africa, the conflicts that have helped define the country, and the steps that have been taken to solve some of these conflicts.
To learn more about this program and other faculty-led trips, visit the Study Abroad Office’s website. You can also check out this Q&A with Matthew about his time in South Africa!
Q. Why did you choose to study abroad?
A. I chose to do a May-term study abroad because it’s an easy way to see the world and experience new cultures while earning credits.
Q. Why did you choose to study abroad in your host country?
A. I chose to study abroad on the Peace and Conflict Studies in South Africa program because it seemed like an amazing opportunity to see the gorgeous county of South Africa, while actively learning about a phenomenal, contemporary case-study in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Q. What would you say was your biggest success/accomplishment from your time abroad?
A. My biggest success in studying abroad was interacting with local South Africans and listening to their stories from apartheid, about the current struggles they face and how they overcome the hurdles of poverty and crime.
Q. How did you interact with the community?
A. While in South Africa, we volunteered with children and young adults at the Jorvan Outreach Center. Jorvan’s motto is “You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you,” which I think pairs nicely with Elizabethtown College’s motto “Educate for Service.” This May-term trip is how I took the College’s motto abroad to affect the lives of those who need help. When you get the opportunity to travel the world, take it and don’t look back because you never know when you’ll get this chance again.
Q. What’s your best memory from your time abroad?
A. Climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town. I’ve hiked mountains before, but they were nothing like Table Mountain. Once I got to the summit, I had that moment that I assume most mountain climbers have. However, as I looked out over Cape Town about 3,500 feet below and to Robben Island 4 miles out in Table Bay, I felt like I was literally on top of the world.
Q. How did studying abroad impact your personal and academic goals?
A. After visiting South Africa, I have a point of reference for future peace and conflict studies classes. South Africa was a humbling experience. Observing the way the South Africans have truly left their ugly past behind and move forward together into the future was amazing. It emboldened me to want to help more people across the world reconcile and move on peacefully.
Q.Why do you believe it’s important for others to study abroad?
A. You can’t experience the world by sitting in your dorm room. The world is the best classroom, and it’s always looking for more students. Travel and study abroad with an open mind. You can learn so much by speaking to a person over a meal in their home. By bridging cultures, we can all understand each other a little more and make the world a better place.
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