Although students typically associate spring break with an overindulgence of booze, beaches and bikinis, the San Diego State department of Africana Studies offers a unique opportunity for students seeking a slightly different experience. This opportunity is a short-term, study abroad program that gives students the chance to spend their breaks learning and serving in the deserts of South Africa.
In order to participate in this program, students must enroll in AFRAS 360, a three-unit class unlike any other, during the spring semester they plan on making the trip. When March 24 rolls around, students and professors pack their bags and fly to South Africa to see firsthand what they have spent the semester studying.
“Alternative spring break programs will place students in communities where they perform short-term projects while learning about issues issues as poverty, educational and cultural literacy, racism, hunger, the environment, homelessness and health related issues,” the Africana Studies department website states. “These educational experiences are designed to heighten social awareness and promote lifelong social action.”
From March 24 to April 5, students will attend tours, lectures and other cultural events to be educated on the complex historical, cultural and social issues of this beautiful, yet troubled, region. Students will record their experiences in a journal along the way and present them to a campus or community group upon returning home.
Although the deadline to participate in this year’s alternative spring break in South Africa has passed, students can keep this option in mind for semesters to come. Through this program, students are offered a condensed study abroad experience, ideal for those short on time and / or money. In addition to completing a three-unit course, students will be able to spend their spring breaks participating in something meaningful.
According to the department’s website, program fees include airfare, lodging, ground transportation, museum fees, tours, safari, daily breakfast and some lunches. Fundraising is encouraged, and students can also seek donations to help finance this excursion. Students can learn more about program costs and the application process by visiting the program’s website at www.rohan.sdsu.edu/~afras/study_abroad.html.
For students who are interested in spending next year’s spring break in a culturally diverse and academically enriching environment, several SDSU alternative spring break trips are offered each year. In light of San Diego’s constant sunshine, the stereotypical spring break options will always be available. Immersing oneself in another culture is time invaluably spent and a spring break experience students are unlikely to forget.