by Andrea Judy
In August 2016, students from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business explored the economic and business environments in South Africa. For two weeks, undergraduate and graduate students traveled, learned and experienced the culture and unique business environments in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Soweto, and Pretoria. For most, this was their first time stepping foot in South Africa, and the program allowed them to see both cultural and economic sites.
For Kimberly Hodges, a Master of Science in Managerial Sciences student, the destination was a dream come true. “I’ve always wanted to go to South Africa, and when I started my program I talked to my adviser about how to make it happen.” She was able to join the summer South Africa trip and get class credit for her work. “I was able to add this in for my own program, and reach a personal goal.”
Undergraduate marketing and computer information systems major Marcel Moore was thrilled to go to Africa as his third study abroad trip. “I hope to break the record for most study abroad trips by a GSU student,” Moore says. He’s already visited Mexico City and Morocco and hopes to get in a few more trips before he graduates in 2017.
Professional MBA student Sekou Bandele Langevine took the trip to make up for lost time. “I didn’t study abroad when I was an undergraduate, and it’s one of my biggest regrets. When this opportunity came up, I had to go.” He enjoyed the chance to expand his horizons and dive into a new culture.
All of the students were able to visit a wide range of locations including local business centers, universities, museums, parks, and cultural sites. For Moore, the thing that stood out above everything else in South Africa was the food. “The food was amazing. As a vegetarian I didn’t even have to ask for that option. It was just there for the taking.” With plans to open a restaurant in Morocco after he graduates, tasting the food of South Africa gave Moore an even stronger drive to pursue his dreams.
Hodges was touched by a visit to Nkosi’s Haven, an orphanage for children and parents with HIV/AIDs. “It was such an incredible experience to hear the kids talk about their school, their homes. It got all of us thinking of ways to help.” Even back in the states, Hodges remains vocal about Nkosi’s Haven and the work it does serving children.
The Apartheid Museum left a lasting impression on Langevine. “It’s only been 20 or so years since Apartheid. The museum really showed what impact that has had on the country.” He saw the museum highlight how far the country has come, but how far they still have to go to recover from the impacts of years of Apartheid.
Moore, Hodges and Langevine all see the trip having a lasting impression on not just their knowledge of business but also their world views. The chance to experience new cultures, ideas and outlooks has broadened their understanding of the global economy. “It’s something you can’t do by yourself. You’ll never experience the same thing if you go by yourself,” Moore explained about studying abroad. The organized visits with businesses, museums and local universities gave all the students a deep entrenchment in South Africa.
Moore encourages everyone to study abroad. “There is so much free money to help you!” Moore said. “I come from a neighborhood without much money. I don’t have family to depend on, but the scholarship opportunities make it possible to study abroad.” For him the experiences have shaped his career plans, and he’s already looking for the next adventure.
Langevine and Hodges are both grateful for the chance to make up for lost opportunities in their undergraduate years by studying abroad as graduate students. “This was my first time studying abroad, and I’m so glad Robinson helped me fit it into my program,” Langevine said.