Studying in South Africa was experience of a lifetime for Florida A&M University law student

From visiting a revolutionary leader’s prison cell to going on a fascinating safari ride in South Africa, the summer of 2018 was one Carline Geneus will never forget. The Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law student enjoyed her opportunity to study law aboard in Cape Town, South Africa. 

“I was too excited to go. It’s the motherland,” said Geneus, a second-year law student from St. Petersburg. “The entire trip was very interesting from beginning to end. We weren’t in a traditional classroom setting as our classes were held at the Marriott.

“One thing I did learn was the experiences of the South Africans during apartheid were eerily similar to some of the injustices that African Americans faced in the United States. While South Africans had Mandela, minorities in the United States had Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fighting for freedom, along with many others.”

One class that stood out to Geneus was Nelson Mandela and Human Rights. Geneus adds that the role of the United Nations and international communities in ending apartheid was significant.

“As someone who considers themselves to be a humanitarian, I appreciated the role of the United Nations in addressing some of the human rights issues that continue to plague South Africans even after apartheid ended. Nelson Mandela himself made use of the United Nations charter to speak up against apartheid and that was impressive,’’ she noted.

VISITED MANDELA’S PRISON CELL

When not studying law, Geneus and other students in the Study Abroad Program ventured out into the streets of Cape Town visiting communities, restaurants and tourist attractions. They stopped at Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for 18 years and they walked the same corridors he did. The tour included an up close and personal view of Mandela’s prison cell.

“This was an amazing experience. A former inmate actually gave us a tour of the prison.” Table Mountain is considered one of the most iconic landmarks in South Africa and it’s a huge tourist attraction. It is also the country’s most photographed attraction and its famous cable car takes millions of people to its top. “The view from Table Mountain is absolutely breathtaking,” said Geneus.

“The African safari was a fun experience. We saw elephants, rhinos, zebras, lions, a giraffe, and many other animals,” said Geneus. “However, we went to a private game reserve just two hours north of Cape Town and it was very, very cold there. I wasn’t prepared for the winter weather.”

‘UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY’

Geneus and other students visited a township the first week there called Langa, which is the oldest of such areas in Cape Town and was the location of much resistance to apartheid. Langa is one of the many areas in South Africa designated for Black Africans before the apartheid era. “We interacted with the local community and tasted their traditional dishes. The people were welcoming. South Africa, is just like any other colonized country—trying to pick up the pieces and build on a better foundation than what was handed to them.”

Before heading back to the United States, the students also had an opportunity to enjoy an opera performance commemorating Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. FAMU College of Law believes study abroad programs can be valuable additions to the law school educational process.

“Students get the unique opportunity to study law, live in a foreign country, become exposed first-hand to the legal system of another country, and receive academic credit towards their degree,” said FAMU College of Law Interim Dean Nicola Boothe Perry.

Jennifer Osias was a recent intern at Florida A&M University’s College of Law.

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