Program alumni, faculty and staff reminisce on program beginnings and progress made

On Sunday, Aug. 27, APU students and alumni gathered to commemorate the South Africa study away program’s 10-year anniversary.

Founded by Director Reg Codrington in 2007, the Azusa Pacific International Education Foundation has continued to provide students with the opportunity to learn, serve and engage in the South African culture in the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town.

Hayley Scully, senior business marketing major and Center for Global Learning and Engagement (CGLE) student staff member, worked throughout the summer as the head event coordinator to create a memorable evening for everyone.

Program alumni RSVP’d over the course of the summer in order to attend the event. Check-in at the UTCC began at 4 p.m., followed by a meal provided through APU University Catering. Guests were given name-tags and t-shirts upon arrival.

CGLE faculty and student staff created several activities for program alumni to enjoy. A photo booth was situated behind one of the two check-in stations, and tables were dispersed throughout the room for alumni to sit and reunite with their program cohorts.

Nikki Johnson Metz, South Africa semester alumna, studied away in the fall of 2009. “There’s so many memories we could talk about,” Metz said. “But more than anything, I made friendships that have lasted long since that semester.”

Guests lined the back walls of UTCC for a self-serve buffet. Mealtime was arranged for alumni to reconnect and reminisce on their favorite South Africa program memories, biggest challenges and most significant life lessons.

Special guest and Cape Town’s History and Culture professor, Neil Henry, spoke on behalf of the API Education Foundation staff.

“Over the years, I tend to integrate a lot of what I share with personal stories,” Henry said. “In some ways, I lay my life bare with you. We’ve had moments where we share tears together in the class. We’ve had moments where we laugh together so hard that the tears run there too.”

“I think that [class time experiences] have been the great joy of this journey together,” Henry said. “There’s such a rich history in the diversity and the joy of this sacred place, that I could not think of a better way to teach that to you other than through personal experience.”

Program Assistant Director Kevin O’Donoghue thanked APU students for their steadfast efforts in cultivating meaningful relationships with the local people in Cape Town and in Pietermaritzburg.

President Jon Wallace spoke on behalf of the university and commissioned students and alumni in prayer.

After the event, alumni and students had the opportunity to converse with each other and with APU and API Education Foundation staff.

“I built relationships with APU students that I get to continue back at school,” junior psychology major Clare Graff said. “We had this bonding experience in another country where we relied on each other and built community.”

The South Africa program’s 10-year anniversary event allowed anyone involved with the program to engage in a space where everyone felt they belonged in a part of the world so far away. South Africa program alumni and prospective study away students alike had the opportunity to come together and share a common appreciation for global engagement.

CGLE encourages prospective students to bring any questions to their office in regards to studying away of the South Africa semester program. CGLE is located near the office of Center for Student Action on Wallace Way.