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Schwartz’ students study South Africa, Swaziland

Professor Sarah SchwartzSarah Schwartz, visiting assistant professor of geography at Lamar University, is preparing a study abroad trip to Swaziland and South Africa, March 7-18. Students will study World Regional Geography and Geography of Tourism covering topics from dark tourism, food tourism, medical tourism and sex tourism to an overview of Sub-Saharan Africa.

“I lived in Swaziland for over a year and and I’ve been to both locations, but it is my first time taking students,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz chose these locations for her study abroad group because of the area’s rich culture and wildlife.

“It’s a really great place to see where some amazing history happened,” said Schwartz. “In the class I’m teaching along with it, we focus a lot on Africa’s history with Apartheid.”

Schwartz said learning in a location where something happened is concrete and valuable.

“We’re reading Nelson Mandela’s biography and then we’ll go to Robin Island where he was imprisoned and we’ll go to one of the neighborhoods in which he used to live,” said Schwartz. “It is powerful to go and see that. It will be more memorable learning about a subject in the place it happened and experience it, rather than just hearing about it in the classroom.”

Schwartz said she hopes that her students will take away a sense of independence after attending this trip. 

“I think it’s an ideal place to take students who might be intimidated to go by themselves,” she said. “It’s a more difficult place to go, if you haven’t traveled a lot and it’s a good way to introduce them to a place they otherwise may never go.” 

“It’s really rewarding to see students experience things for the first time,” said Schwartz. “I’ve had a number of students where it’s their first time on a plane. So it’s really nice to see them realize that they can navigate an airport, and travel by themselves.”

Schwartz welcomes students of all majors.

“We have nursing, history, several different majors,” said Schwartz. “The nursing student is interested because we are visiting an Non-governmental Organization that works with daycare centers and is working to improve healthcare for children and we will meet a doctor who works with HIV/AIDS patients.”

Schwartz says that the program contains something for everyone. The group plans to hike Cape Town’s Table Mountain, shop at local markets and go on game drives.

“We’ll see some amazing game reserves and hopefully lots of wildlife.” said Schwartz. “It’s a great place where you can experience and see first hand a number of different areas.”

Schwartz said visiting other countries is important for personal development.

“I think it’s important for students to be aware of what’s happening in other countries and to be aware that societies out there are different than ours,” said Schwartz. “I hope it sparks an ongoing interest learning about other places and keeping up with what’s happening in other places, especially because what happens in the US often affects what happens in other countries.”

Learn more about studying abroad visit