March 18, 2013
On Dec. 28, 2012, a group of Drury students and professors left the United States for an impactful adventure in South Africa. The purpose of the study abroad trip was to give students the chance to experience a different part of the world while volunteering in an orphanage and a South African town. What the students saw and did during their time there is an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Psychology Professors Jennifer Silva Brown and Rachael Herrington led the students on the trip. The first stop was Cape Town, a city filled with diversity, beauty and comfort. For five days, students explored the city, foods, sights and culture. Rebecca Vogt, a senior studying psychology and sociology, went on the study abroad trip to be exposed to a new culture and lifestyle. “I expected to be outside my comfort zone in many instances, but also to learn what it’s like to meet and talk to other people who have grown up with different experiences than my own,” Vogt said.
Drury students and professors with children from the Dream Catcher Foundation’s after school program.
After spending time in Cape Town, the group moved on to Melkhoutfontein, a fishing and farming community with about 2,000 residents. A day was spent volunteering at an orphanage. Many children housed at the orphanage had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and came from dark pasts. “The amazing thing about the orphanage is that the woman and son that run it do it solely on their own income,” said Dr. Herrington. “They are always in need of help with school supplies and medicine. It’s inspiring that they do so much.”
The next week, Drury students worked with the Dream Catcher Kids, an after-school group created to give children a positive place to go after they finished school for the day in Melkhoutfontein. “The kids were bright, energetic and loved getting to talk and do activities with us,” said Vogt. “It was great to see that we brought something positive to their lives, especially since many of them came from difficult home situations.”
Dr. Silva Brown and Dr. Herrington both agreed that the trip was a success. Each Drury student had the opportunity to authentically experience the local culture within his or her volunteer roles. Some students worked with after-school kids, others worked in a nursery, delivered medicine, or worked in a pharmacy. “Lessons will be there for years to come. We witnessed just how much we take for granted,” said Dr. Silva Brown. The biggest takeaway for Vogt was the realization that everyone comes from a different background, “It’s important to accept and understand differences,” she said. “I feel like I am more culturally aware and a global citizen because of this trip.”
If you are interested in making a donation to the orphanage, please contact Dr. Rachael Herrington at email@example.com or 417-873-6920.
Story by Amber Perdue, a senior advertising and public relations major.