University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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First Group of UW-Eau Claire Students
To Leave Soon for Study in South Africa

 MAILED:  June 17, 2004

EAU CLAIRE - University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students interested in studying abroad during the summer have an exciting new destination option - Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Thirteen students from a variety of disciplines, the first group from UW-Eau Claire to visit South Africa, will leave later this month and spend five weeks learning about a country and society in transition.

The students will fly into Durban and begin their experience at the Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where they will attend an orientation and tour the school and the city. They then will continue on to Pietermaritzburg, a modern city of 230,000 and the provincial headquarters of the KwaZulu-Natal region. They will live and take classes at the University of KwaZulu-Natal International School.

Dr. Karl Markgraf, director of the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire, visited the KwaZulu-Natal University campuses in both Durban and Pietermaritzburg last year when the CIE was first looking into arranging a study abroad opportunity in Africa. He said that a quality educational system, political stability, safety and good infrastructure, such as nearby hospitals, were among the prime factors he considered when choosing a location.

"South Africa quickly emerged as a country that had all that, and the KwaZulu-Natal region is one of the most beautiful, culturally diverse and interesting places I have ever visited," said Markgraf, noting that the area is home not only to the Zulu people and Afrikaners, but also to the largest population of Indians outside of India. "In addition, the program offered by the University of KwaZulu-Natal's international programs office fit well with UW-Eau Claire's curriculum and clearly offered a superb learning opportunity for our students."

Markgraf said he initially expected less interest in the new program, but he and the study abroad staff of the CIE were pleasantly surprised at the high number of students applying.

Kelly Pierce, Tomah, who is entering her junior year at UW-Eau Claire in the fall, said she knew the moment she read about the program that it was just what she was looking for in a study abroad experience. She is majoring in history with a political science minor for secondary education.

"I really feel like the time I am spending in making myself more conscious of the world around me will help to make me the best teacher I can be," said Pierce. "Even though I'm the one going to South Africa, I will have the ability to bring it back in the classroom for my students and share with them the things I have learned there."

Pierce is taking two three-credit classes: "Turbulent Times: KwaZulu-Natal from Earliest Days to Present" and "Policy Issues and Community Service." She is particularly excited about the community service course because it focuses on the skills needed for nation building. Pierce will work with an approved community organization to gain both practical and theoretical backgrounds in policy analysis.

"This course focuses on the necessary steps it takes to build a democracy where none previously existed," said Pierce. "This will be a real eye-opener and help me to better understand not only the politics in South Africa, but also the difficulties that Iraq is facing now that they are ready to adopt a new government."

Senior Rachael Adamski, an English literature major from Stevens Point, said she was simply attracted to the opportunity to study in Africa and is most interested in the third course being offered, "Zulu Language, Art, and Culture."

Melissa Quick, Plymouth, Minn., is entering her senior year and has a mass communications major, with an emphasis on public relations, and a history minor. Although she doesn't see this program as relating directly to her major, she said she expects the experience to be "amazing and eye-opening" and to bring "priceless insight and understanding to my life."

Quick said she was particularly attracted by the opportunity to travel and study in Africa in a safe and organized manner.

"I may never again get the chance to travel into this diverse and rich continent," Quick said.

Students participating in the South Africa program each take two of the three classes offered, all of which include lectures, seminars, field experiences, tours of historic sites and visits to rural areas of the country as well. The community service class can be used to meet UW-Eau Claire's service-learning requirement.

Applications for the summer 2005 program will be accepted beginning Sept. 1 of this year. The priority application deadline is Nov. 15.

For information on other requirements, costs and financial aid available, contact Colleen Marchwick, study abroad coordinator, at UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education, (715) 836-4411, or



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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: June 17, 2004