Swimming with Penguins, Exploring South Africa

Hi! My name is Grace Hamel and I am a junior. I am majoring in psychology with a minor in english literature. During the winter of 2020, I was able to go to South Africa for the course “Witnessing Contemporary African Society” using the Trustee Scholarship that was awarded to me when I was accepted to Wheaton. In this course we learned about apartheid and how it still affects South Africa now. What is amazing about a two-week course abroad is that I was not only able to learn, but experience. “Witnessing Contemporary African Society” was an amazing course because it can apply to any major. We looked at political and social issues and it gave us an extremely well-rounded view of South African society.

We traveled to Johannesburg first, and then we went to Cape Town. We went to museums, townships, and we did many other activities. One of the amazing places we went to was Orlando Children’s Home (OCH). They house sixty children and they provide them with food, water, clothes, and shelter. Their biggest goal is to keep families together. I found that I was drawn to the many youth programs we met and learned about. When I graduate from Wheaton, my plan is to go to graduate school and receive my master’s in social work. I hope to work as a licensed therapist, working with children and adolescents that suffer from autism or other behavioral issues. I found that this course allowed me to explore and experience how youths are taken care of within society. Another one of the most amazing moments on this trip was going to Boulders Beach in Cape Town. There you can find a colony of African penguins. My friends and I were able to swim in the water with them and it is something I will never forget.