Tag Archives: South Africa
By Mathieu S. Davis, 2013-2014, South Africa
My Fulbright in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was divided into two primary areas: research and community outreach. The research portion of my fellowship focused on knee replacement implants and the different tribological properties of current materials used in these devices. For this project, I had to build a device that functioned as a pin-on-plate wear tester, which would generate particles over the course of time that could be measured using simple distillation techniques to determine the degree of wear particles produced. My research aimed to determine the most effective combination of materials to limit debris and particle accumulation during extensive wear testing. I also performed additional research in gait analysis as a means of biometric identification. For this project, I had to come up with a novel statistical and repeatable method that could determine through statistical principles, the likelihood that two gait profiles are similar or different. This expertise was utilized by the South African Police Department as a potential identification tool of a crime suspect.
By Thalia Patrinos, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to South Africa
By night, I am a hula hoop teacher, circus performer, and fire dancer.
My hobbies may seem eccentric, but they offer opportunities for endless exploration, healthy exercise, and incredible cultural connections with students and audience members.
I began the journey into circus arts during my first year of college six years ago, and I have never looked back. My side career in the teaching and performance of fire and flow arts have taken me to festivals in Hungary, theaters in New York City, and classrooms here in South Africa.
We all need a little bit of playtime in our lives, whether we are children or adults. We need to be encouraged to have fun, let loose, and get lost in something, and all it takes is something as simple as a hula hoop to get us there sometimes.
By Samantha Kay Kobs, 2014-2015, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to South Africa
The bell rings. Moments later, I hear the shuffling of 1,300 pairs of shoes as I brace myself for yet another lunch break spent working in the library; our library—the one at Dr. Blok Secondary School in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The one that my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) partner and I just reopened after six years of being locked up behind giant iron bars.
As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Africa, I’ve had many responsibilities: helping teachers, creating after school clubs, and reaching out to businesses for sponsorships. I’ve also spent plenty of time reestablishing the school library that was seemingly forgotten. Abandoned. Thousands of books—mostly outdated, torn covers, and enough dust to cause some serious asthma attacks—had to be cleaned and organized in a logical manner. Then came teaching my students the absolute basics of library etiquette. This has been exasperating to say the least, but I often remind myself that my students do not mean to disorganize with their frantic book grabbing—they are simply enjoying the privileges of a library for the first time in their lives. Challenges aside, I love what I do, but sometimes it’s difficult to see the impact that you’re having when you’re so caught up in the busyness of it all.
By Kimberly Burge, 2009-2010, South Africa
To me, writing is me.
It is me listening
To what I have to say,
To what I want to say,
To what my heart says.
– Gugu, age 16
I was not your typical Fulbrighter. I came to the program at the age of 40, after building a career in nonprofit communications, which had taken me to Africa for the first time in 2002 on a three-week trip that flew by. I fell in love with the places I visited, especially with South Africa. Years earlier, the country had played a pivotal role in educating me about social justice and activism through South Africa’s struggle against apartheid (its state-sanctioned racial segregation). While working, I also attended graduate school part-time, earning a master of fine arts in nonfiction writing. As I finished my degree, I wanted a new challenge, time to devote to writing in my own voice, maybe a chance to live abroad. A friend had just received a Fulbright Study/Research grant to translate poetry in Lithuania. I began to explore the program’s options.
It dawned on me then: Bold moves are not limited to one’s twenties.
By Tiffany N. Burd, 2013-2014, South Africa
Receiving a Fulbright U.S. Student grant fulfilled a lifelong dream of working in one of the most challenging communities in the world: a South African township. The grant allowed me to research the strengths of an extremely impoverished community with an estimated 40% HIV prevalence rate. The findings of the assessment were used to plan and implement HIV prevention programs at a local community resource center, Butterfly House, which serves 400 orphans and vulnerable children.
I conducted hundreds of interviews with people living around Butterfly House and quickly realized their strength. While interviewing a woman in her shack, I learned of her community activism efforts. She had mobilized over five hundred women to sign petitions to shut down a local pub that had been serving underage youth. A man shared his interest in nutrition and his endeavor to build a community garden. Others spoke of their participation in neighborhood watches. The list continued to grow and I left each interview knowing that each of us had shared a moment of mutual understanding of the world.