The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Faculty leads south africa trip

2 min read

By Kelly Knight

Geography professor Donald Rallis understands the importance of studying abroad.

“I learned more from travel than I could ever have learned from college courses,” said Rallis, who will be leading a trip in the summer of 2011 to South Africa, where he is from.

From July 31 to Aug. 20, Rallis will accompany UMW students on a three-credit study abroad course. Students will split their time between Johannesburg and Capetown, as well as spend three to four days at the Pilanesberg Game Park.

The Geography Department is sponsoring the trip, but students of all academic disciplines are encouraged to participate.

Students will learn about the geography, history and development of South Africa in a post-apartheid era.

An historian specializing in the history of Johannesburg will guide a walking tour of the city and a park ranger will lead students on a game drive. Additionally, other South African geography professors will head day trips and give guest lectures.

Rallis stated, “South Africa is still working to overcome apartheid’s legacy, but the country is also facing a whole new set of issues and challenges.”

These challenges include unequal distribution of income, underdevelopment in rural areas and the influx of large numbers of people from other countries in Africa.

After receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Rallis refused to join the South African military, which was a two-year requirement for all white males, because he saw the military as defenders and enforcers of apartheid.

Growing up, Rallis witnessed the unjust policies that literally divided South Africa firsthand.

“I attended schools which were, by law, reserved for whites only. I lived in a whites-only neighborhood, traveled on buses that were for whites only and swam in whites-only public swimming pools,” said Rallis.

Rallis left South Africa to study in the United States instead of joining the military. He obtained his master’s degree and doctorate in geography from the University of Miami and The Pennsylvania State University, respectively.

Rallis took a total of nearly 100 students between 1992 and 1999 to South Africa while heading the Southern African Field Program at UMW.
This particular trip will involve no formal class time, focusing on experiential learning instead.

“The world looks different depending on where you look at it from,” said Rallis. “If you want to have any chance of understanding the world, you need to try as best you can to see the world as others see it.”

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