For over twenty-five years, the University of Missouri has had a relationship with the University of Western Cape in South Africa. Since 2015, the Bachelor of Health Science Experience in South Africa has taken students to various sites in the area to expand their perspectives and help them develop global leadership skills. Colleagues at the University of Western Cape collaborated with Dr. Richard Oliver, Dean Emeritus of the School of Health Professions, to choose a site for the students.
This year, the group of students spent time working with a non-profit organization called Won Life in Fisantekraal, a small community in Cape Town, South Africa. Through Won Life students painted and refurbished classrooms and assisted with Physical Education classes. Junior Public Health student, Max Culbert, saw great value in working with these children, “I learned a ton about education as a determinant of health. Their focus is education because they see it as the best way to improve these kids’ future health outcomes and career outcomes because education is the first stepping stone in order for them to have more success in their lives.” The group toured a variety of University of Western Cape’s experiential learning sites and connected with members of their Faculty (School) of Public Health. Students also participated in a tour of the District Six Museum, which shows the effects of apartheid resettlement on a local neighborhood.
Students took time to shadow, train, and volunteer teaching in Won Life’s Literacy Centre at Trevor Manuel Primary School. Culbert lists this experience as one of his favorite activities on the trip. “That was a really good experience and I miss it a lot. It’s hard to describe it, but seeing the kids that live there, and you see how happy they are, it makes you glad that there are people like the individuals at WonLife that are so passionate. It makes me want to take action.”