New South Africa study abroad experience to start in 2019

By Brigid Lowney | April 29, 2018 1:50pm

In 2019 University of Portland students will have the opportunity to go on a new study abroad experience to South Africa. This photo of Cape Town, South Africa is courtesy of Creative Commons.

For many University of Portland students, studying abroad is an important and influential part of their college experience. But sometimes getting away for a whole year or a semester can be difficult. 

In recognizing the need for different types of programs, the Office of Study Abroad and Director for Leadership in the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Dave Houglum are offering a new study abroad program in South Africa.

The program requires students to take a 3-credit leadership course (LDR 391) during the Spring 2019 semester, followed by a four week trip to South Africa during the month of May, led by Houglum. 

“I think that it’s really exciting to see collaborative work between different centers on campus,” Eddie Contreras, study abroad director, said. “This is a way of listening to student feedback and creating different types of programs that meet their needs that are still high-level learning opportunities and go to places beyond the beaten path.”

Applications for this program open in the fall of 2018. Students who have taken the required LDR 225 Foundations of Leadership course will have priority in the application process, Houglum said. 

The cost of the LDR course is paid using regular spring semester tuition, and the travel portion of the program costs an additional $5,500, approximately. The cost includes flights, transportation within South Africa, meals, accommodations, activities and other program-related expenses, Contreras explained. 

The new South Africa program is a continuation of the program offered this spring. Sixteen students currently enrolled in the Global Perspectives on Leadership course will be heading to New Zealand on May 8th to learn about indigenous leadership.

The South Africa program follows the same structure as the New Zealand program. The format is divided into three phases:

Phase 1: Course instruction (Spring 2019)

Students accepted to the program will enroll in the 3-credit LDR 391: Global Perspectives on Leadership - South Africa course. The course will take place during the Spring 2019 semester and meet on Wednesdays at 4:10-5:35 p.m.  

During the course, students will focus on team building and group dynamics. Each student will craft a plan about what they hope to learn and focus on a specific leadership characteristic that they want to improve on during their time abroad, Houglum said.

Students will learn about the history and politics of South Africa, as well as influential South African leaders, such as Nelson Mandela. 

Phase 2: Travel (Summer 2019)

After completing the course, sixteen students led by Houglum will travel to South Africa in May. The group will spend four weeks traveling to various parts of the country where they will engage in service projects and outdoor exploration. The itinerary for the South Africa program is still being developed by Houglum and others in the study abroad office. 

Houglum will lead the group in collaboration with Carpe Diem Education, an organization that designs study abroad and gap year programs. A Carpe Diem coordinator will help form the itinerary for South Africa.

The program will have an emphasis on servant-leadership where students will learn about human rights and social justice. 

“I’m trying to uproot students from their comfort zone and push them to the edges of their growth where they can personally grow as leaders,” Houglum said. 

The group traveling to South Africa, as well as New Zealand, will have a global perspectives blog where they will share anecdotes, reflections and pictures. 

Phase 3: Reflection (Fall 2019)

When students return to campus in the fall, they will participate in a group reflection about their experiences and discuss how to integrate their new skills and knowledge into their communities on and off campus. Students will also give a presentation at an event that will be open to the entire university community. Houglum is still developing the details and schedule for the event.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to broaden their perspectives on leadership,” Houglum said. “It will not only impact their confidence in the United States, but in the world because our world is becoming more diverse and interconnected.”