Sanibona from Sarasota, Florida! I’ve been home from South Africa for almost a week now, and I can definitely say that I miss that country and my program. As we finished up our Independent Study Projects (ISPs), all of the students on my trip were proud of our productions and we presented our papers to one another as a final part of the program. My paper ended up being around 40 pages, yet all of us felt we could have written much more on our topics!
Reflecting on my time in South Africa as a whole is difficult as there were so many eye-opening experiences throughout the semester. The completion of the ISP was definitely an accomplishment that everyone on my program was proud of; we’d spent the entire semester building up skills to accomplish a small bit of research, and then had the ability to execute our plans. As my project was centered on PMTCT of HIV, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to know about the topic, and hope to craft a senior thesis (when the time comes!) about HIV.
There was a question that came up when we conducted our projects: “will we actually be making an impact on these communities we are studying?” The short answer, to the shock of my fellow students and I, was no. The three-week research period left much to be desired in the reality of helping the communities we studied as a whole. However, through our projects, we were able to affirm the individuals we worked with and were able to tell their stories in our papers. We can use our ISP experiences as a kick-start to investigating topics in the future that can really make an impact on communities. For me, my ISP really opened up the world of research on HIV and PMTCT, and has given me a paradigm through which to view HIV problems not only in the South Africa, but worldwide.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read about my studies in South Africa. Sala kahle (stay well)!
Twitter: A #GWU student wraps-up her studies in South Africa #GWAbroad