When Emma Stein ’17 arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, over the winter break, she was amazed at the dire conditions she encountered.
Two-thirds of the city lives in abject poverty, and nearly half its residents are unemployed. There is a clear divide between the super rich and the super poor.
Stein was intrigued by the method of urban planning used during apartheid, which created these conditions in part by using buffer zones to keep racial groups separate.
Stein had an opportunity to explore the issue from a journalist’s perspective by spending her break working at the Cape Chameleon, an NGO-sponsored magazine about South African issues, public interest stories and social life.
She researched the history of Cape Town and apartheid, interviewed experts and toured the areas adversely affected. She wrote an article about her observations that was published
“Visiting these communities is what really brought the issue to life,” said Stein, a political science major from Stowe, Vt. “Seeing the shacks built out of scrap metal on the side of the road, and seeing how far some people have to drive every day if they want to be employed in the City Bowl truly brought the poverty to life. But then playing with the children, talking to the parents and speaking to people throughout the city also showed me how much hope there still is.”
Stein is among the second group of Union students who spent three weeks over winter break as Klemm Fellows. The program places students in a foreign country where they stay with a host family and work for a local organization. Most costs are covered by the Klemm Fellow International Internship Program.
In addition to Stein, the others included:
Meghana Damaraju ’19 (international medical internship in Sri Lanka)
Ayanah Dowdye ’19 (healthcare and medicine in Ghana)
Christina Dykas ’19 (midwifery internship in Tanzania)
Yuan Gao '18 (rainforest conservation in Madagascar)
Zhixin Kang ’18 (arts and crafts in Togo)
Lakhena Leang ’19 (public health internship in Cambodia)
Eric Lovett ’18 (midwifery internship in Tanzania)
The eight were among a highly selective pool of applicants, according to Lara Atkins, director of International Programs. Students were required to submit an essay and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.2.
Faculty mentors were Erika Nelson, associate professor of German; Tom Lobe, lecturer in political science; and Mark Dallas, assistant professor of political science.
Stein said being a Klemm Fellow was one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.
“I was able to travel to somewhere I never thought possible, meet people from throughout the world and become immersed in something that I am incredibly interested in,” said Stein. “I stayed with a host family and got to ask them questions about their lives, their history and their hopes for the future. And I got to see one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
The program is funded through the Professor Frederick A. Klemm and Eleanor G. Klemm Fund for International Study and Service.
A professor emeritus of German, Klemm was considered the father of terms abroad at Union. He inaugurated the College’s program by guiding a group of 28 students to Vienna, Austria, in spring 1969. He died in 2010. He was 97. Eleanor died in 2004. The couple was committed to supporting students pursuing international careers in service.
Today, more than 60 percent of Union’s students enjoy an international study experience in dozens of countries across the globe.
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