Four United States of America students spent four weeks in KwaZulu-Natal learning isiZulu at UNIZULU and familiarized themselves with the local culture. The language forms an important part of their studies which are focused on Africa and the northern KZN region.
Student, Muhga Eltigani who recently completed her Master’s studies said it’s important for her to be able to communicate in isiZulu during interviews. “We also visited different sites and went on tours to better understand the way of life of the Zulu people,” she said. Eltigani, from Northeast Philadelphia, said they have also learnt a great deal about traditional weddings and beadwork.
Student, Liz Timbs received her Master’s in Comparative World History from George Mason University. Her thesis, Lethal, Incurable, and Controversial: The Responses of American NGOs to the AIDS Epidemic in Southern Africa, analysed the impact of the first government-funded AIDS intervention in Africa.
Timbs’ research interests are currently focused on the history of health and healing in South Africa, with particular emphasis on the AIDS epidemic. “I am also interested in the professionalisation of medicine in South Africa, masculinity studies, and comparative studies between South Africa and the United States,” she said.
The students were given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the IsiZulu language, culture and lifestyle through a one-semester homestay-cum-study programme drawn up by UNIZULU and the American Councils for International Education. Language instruction depended on proficiency levels and included group work, individual tutorials, lectures and practice sessions covering grammar, conversation, phonetics, reading, writing and isiZulu-language media.
Each student also had the opportunity to stay with Zulu families in rural, urban or peri-urban areas surrounding UNIZULU. University of Pennsylvania’s Foreign Languages lecturer, Dr Audrey Mbeje thanked UNIZULU for resources provided. She said: “We would be denying ourselves if we don’t tap into this rich history that South Africa has to offer.”