Professor John Pollock of the United States and
his students on a hike in the Drakensberg.

A group of American students from the College of New Jersey in the United States visited UKZN during their three-week stay in South Africa as part of a faculty-led study abroad internship.

The internship leader who is on the Faculty in the Communication Studies Department at the College, Professor John Pollock, said the health communications course explored the use of entertainment to educate.

‘We are very interested in particular in entertainment education because South Africans use TV, radio, sound, dance etc to fight gender violence, poverty and AIDS.’

Pollock was invited by Professor Keyan Tomaselli of UKZN’s Centre for Culture, Media, and Society after meeting him four years ago at a conference in Mexico City. Pollock visited Durban for the first time during a world communication studies conference hosted by Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli in July last year.

‘The Tomaselli’s are world famous of course, and I also just fell in love with this area,’ said Pollock.

KwaZulu-Natal was also of particular interest because of its position as the epicentre of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.

Highlights of the trip included a visit to Ekwanzini and Zwelihle schools in Umlazi where the students acted out different scenarios and interacted with the learners. The US visitors were struck by the magnificent a cappella singing of the young high school students.

The students visited a hospice and Mahatma Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement and also went bungee jumping at Moses Mabhida Stadium, toured a game reserve at Hluhluwe, went hiking in the Drakensberg, ziplined at Lake Eland, dived in a shark tank at uShaka, viewed crocodiles and pythons in Valley of a Thousand Hills, and surfed.

The extremes in living conditions struck the students as odd. They saw “people living in two million dollar houses and others living in tin shacks”.

‘We felt safe,’ said one student, ‘even though we heard that crime was a major problem in South Africa.’

Pollock plans to bring another student group to UKZN in June next year.