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Students in South Africa meet with Desmond Tutu

By Kari VanDerVeen
January 11, 2013

St. Olaf students chat with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who welcomed them to "a wonderful country going through rough times."

On their first morning in South Africa, students in St. Olaf College's Social Work 280 class celebrated morning prayer with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at St. George's Cathedral.

After attending a service led by Tutu, the students chatted with the Nobel laureate over coffee.

"It was a powerful beginning to a month of new experiences and adventures," course participants noted on the blog detailing their adventures abroad.

The 24 St. Olaf students are just a week into the Social Realities of South Africa program, one of 29 off-campus courses that are sending 551 St. Olaf students around the world this Interim.

In addition to meeting with Tutu, the group has toured Robben Island Prison and spent two days in a township community, where students undertook a program led by former African National Congress soldiers and women's empowerment leaders. They also took an excursion to Seal Island, attended a play about apartheid-era popular music, and enjoyed a soccer match between South Africa's national team and Norway — all while examining the social issues South Africa faces in the wake of apartheid and the explosion of HIV/AIDS.

"South Africa's past is deeply woven into all aspects of daily life," notes a blog post co-authored by Katie Kuefler '15, Tenzin Kunsal '13, and Holly Mitchell '14.

More student reflections and photos of their trek will be added to the blog regularly (time and Wi-Fi permitting, of course).

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or