Where in the world … South Africa

September 10, 2019 | Society

Outside Khayelihle High School, one of the affiliated Isibindi schools, in Umbumbulu, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.


"This experience is going to change you."

Those were the words of Jenny McGrath, chair of the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program. Back in May, she encouraged three of her students to attend the 22nd National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) Biennial Conference. The students had just finished helping organize the Provincial Child and Youth Care Conference at MacEwan University when they learned of this international opportunity — in South Africa.


 In our “Where in the World” series, students and faculty members share highlights from this year’s study tours, exchanges, internships and field schools. Talk to a faculty advisor or visit MacEwan.ca/EducationAbroad for opportunities.  

“South Africa is referred to as the birthplace of child and youth care,” says Erika Altrogge, one of the three students who went. Child and youth care has been vital in a country that continues to deal with child trafficking and child-run households (in which parents are no longer around to support their families). “It was really interesting to see how far they have come from the perspective of where we in Canada yet need to be. It’s always a work in progress.”

As part of the conference, the students explored youth centres, schools and parks established by the NACCW’s Isibindi, a community-based care and protection intervention option for children. Isibindi projects are implemented by local organizations and communities. Almost 300 Isibindi projects across South Africa serve over 100,000 children, who would otherwise not receive the support and care they need.

“Those visits were the highlight for me because we got to experience a day in the life of these child and youth care workers, and that was just so vastly different from what we are used to in Canada,” says Erika. “The people there work with just about nothing and the work they do is incredible.”

About to begin her fourth year of the program in September, Erika is ready to see how what she has learned from this experience will translate into her field work and ongoing studies — but so far, her chair was correct. The experience changed her.

“I really do feel like our profs can see when these opportunities come up for us to experience inner growth.”

Photo by Erika Altrogge.


Where in the world … Ireland and Scotland

Students in MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program journeyed through the country (and parts of Scotland as well) to get an idea of how Ireland’s history impacts children and families.

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