Seniors study in Zimbabwe for spring break

Two SUNY Oneonta seniors traveled with professor Dr. Robert Compton to Zimbabwe during spring break to learn about development in an environment of economic turmoil. Students learned about the political development and political economy of Zimbabwe and the difficulties of NGO operating under unstable socio-economic conditions.

The students met with and received briefings from a large array of groups including Parliament staff and elected national legislators, the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust, the Clerk of Parliament, the National Association of NGOs, the University of Zimbabwe, the US Embassy, and a brief stopover to the opposition MDC offices. There, they saw the after-effects of the riots in Zimbabwe after the elections and the accompanying damage to the offices, which included shattered windows and the charred markings of a fire bomb.

Students also did some sight-seeing, visiting Heroes Acre (built by the North Koreans) and Domboshawa Park (one large granite formation for miles and miles), took a tour of Mbare high density suburbs, visited Victoria Falls from both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides, and enjoyed the sunset on a Zambezi River cruise. They also visited the Mbizi Game Reserve and the famous Hwange National Wildlife Reserve, where they saw animals including zebras, bushbucks, hippos, baboons, giraffes, elands, and elephants.

Despite experiencing electoral conflict, violence and a declining peacetime economy, the students found that Zimbabweans were hospitable, friendly and hopeful for the future.

Prior to arriving in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, the students spent several days in Johannesburg, South Africa and attended a theater performance in Newtown and participated in a Graffiti Tour. They also visited the University of Johannesburg.

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