2016 Honors in South Africa

Bantu Base Afrika: Language, Culture and Health

2016 Honors in South Africa

Sponsoring Unit: Honors Program, Undergraduate Academic Affairs with Department of Sociology and Department of Linguistics

Program Dates: July 21 – August 19, 2016 (Summer B term)

This program will satisfy the following 15 credits of Honors core requirements for students who elect to be on the Linguistics track for the duration of this program:

Course Credits Honors Credit Type
HONORS 394/LING 234/LING 333 5 Honors Interdisciplinary (VLPA & I&S)
HONORS 233/LING 390/SOC 499 5 Honors Social Science (I&S)
HONORS 381/LING 480/SOC 395 3 Honors Interdisciplinary (I&S, NW, and VLPA)
HONORS 381/LING 499/SOC 499 2 (SPR) Honors Interdisciplinary (I&S, NW, and VLPA)

This program will satisfy the following 15 credits of Honors core requirements for students who elect to be on the Health track for the duration of this program:

Course Credits Honors Credit Type
HONORS 233/SOC 401 5 Honors Social Science (I&S)
HONORS 233/LING 390/SOC 499 5 Honors Social Science (I&S)
HONORS 381/ LING 480/SOC 395 3 Honors Interdisciplinary (I&S, NW, and VLPA)
HONORS 381/ LING 499/SOC 499 2 (SPR) Honors Interdisciplinary (I&S, NW, and VLPA)

Please note: Interdisciplinary Honors students who elect to be on the Linguistics Track for the duration of this program will receive 10 credits of interdisciplinary and 5 credits of Honors I&S. Honors Interdisciplinary students who elect to be on the Health Track for the duration of this program will receive 10 credits of Honors I&S and 5 credits of Honors Interdisciplinary. Check with your Honors Advisor if you would like any of these credits to count toward your departmental requirements)

Linguistics students will receive linguistics credits.

Sociology students will receive sociology credits.

Apply through the UW Study Abroad website

Applications due: January 29, 2016

Information Sessions

Contact Program Director for more information

About the Program

South Africa group photo 2014

Post-Apartheid South Africa is a rapidly developing middle-income country with a unique history, eleven official languages and a variety of significant and challenging health and development issues, all of which make it a stimulating place to experience and learn about multilingualism, development and health issues.  This program is led by a linguist and a demographer with significant experience working and doing research in South Africa over the past fifteen years.  The program provides strong experience-based exposure to complex language, cultural and development issues faced by contemporary South Africans. It offers two tracks: one on population health and public health research in populations simultaneously affected by HIV and traditional chronic diseases of aging, and another on advanced topics on multilingualism and languages in contact in social life.

Upon arrival in South Africa, students receive a broad orientation to the country while they recover from jetlag and adjust themselves. The initial venue is Soweto (the Southwest Townships of Johannesburg that played an important part in the struggle against Apartheid) with excursions and lectures by local academics to provide information and context. The accommodation is a very welcoming backpackers’ lodge situated several blocks from the historic Mandela House in Soweto and other historical landmarks.

During the second week the Linguistics and Health tracks each go to a different location.  The Linguistics group spends the week at the North-West University in the college town of Potchefstroom where they interact closely with the English Department and its students. They will have the opportunity to learn the basics of Afrikaans and experience linguistic issues that affect South Africa in unusual ways. They will visit a mine and participate in every day activities of the host population. The Health group travels to the University of the Witwatersrand’s rural campus in northeast South Africa where the Agincourt HDSS site is located.  The students stay in a rustic setting on an old game farm owned by the University and go on a series of field trips that expose them to rural health care and the Agincourt HDSS public health research infrastructure.  The Health group spends one day at the Kruger game park. At the end of the week both tracks return to Johannesburg and from there fly to Durban together.

Both tracks come together in week three in the beautiful and culturally diverse coastal city of Durban.  Accommodation is at the safe, affordable and welcoming Glenmore Pastoral Centre.  The focus is on learning isiZulu and experiencing a variety of new cultural/learning situations ranging from sitting in with University of KwaZulu-Natal students for some of their linguistic classes to visiting local schools and experiencing a variety of less structured ‘everyday’ interactions at markets and other public venues.  The Linguistics track focuses more on language use in multilingual/multicultural settings, and the Health track is introduced to the Africa Centre HDSS and begins to learn basic demographic and epidemiological analysis techniques using the statistical package R and data from both the Agincourt and Africa Centre HDSS sites.  The weekend at the end of this week is completely free for everyone!

Durban, South Africa coast

In week four both tracks travel together to Zululand about 200km north of Durban.  This is the homeland of the Zulu ethnic group which has played a consequential role in South Africa’s history for hundreds of years.  Both tracks tour the Africa Centre HDSS field site that conducts a wide array of public health and basic science research on diseases that affect South Africans – HIV, chronic disease, lifestyle disease, etc. The Health track continues with a more in-depth visit of the Africa Centre’s unique, state-of-the-art data management and analysis unit, while the Linguistics track delves deeper into their study of Zulu by visiting a rural school.  Both tracks spend a day at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game park before heading back to Durban and having a free day.

Week five consolidates what the students have experienced and lets them relax a little before going home.  The Linguistics group visits local schools and participates in a linguistic study of stories told by Zulu-speaking school children – the “narratives” project.  The Health students spend two days working hard on finishing up their comparative analysis of HDSS data and make a brief presentation of their results to each other and to guests.  The last day is a free day, and then the students leave South Africa from Durban.

Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements/Physical Components

Students in the Honors Program at the University of Washington (first priority to interdisciplinary honors, across all majors with discretion of directors to prioritize other students). Students in the following departments are also given priority: Linguistics, Sociology, Global Health, Epidemiology, Statistics, Anthropology, African Studies, Spanish and Portuguese. Program credits will count toward the Honors core requirements and/or Linguistics, Sociology, African Studies, Global Health per preapproval of instructor and department.

Sculpture of Nelson Mandela profile

No prerequisites required; however, familiarity with interdisciplinary research setting, good personal skills, and basic technology literacy.  For the Health track, familiarity with Excel and ability to learn basic script-based programming skills in R is helpful. For the Linguistics track, recommend enrolling in LING200 or LING400 prior to the start of the program.

Selection to the program is competitive and acceptance into the program will be decided based on application materials, interviews, and student’s demonstrated motivation to challenge themselves intellectually across academic disciplines and cultures and to work both individually and in groups.  The program directors are seeking open minded students who are interested in engaging fully in the local communities and meeting and dialoging with a wide variety of people (e.g. youth, older generation, community activists, artists, politicians, and educators) at each site.

This program will entail walking; students should be in good physical condition. In the South African setting it is not possible to guarantee that dietary restrictions not required by a doctor can be accommodated; students must be tolerant with respect to food options.

Program Credit

Language and Diversity

Clarissa Surek-Clark (Linguistics Track Students)
Honors 394, Honors Interdisciplinary (VLPA & I&S), 5 credits
Or Linguistics 234 or Linguistics 333

This course aims to advance students’ knowledge of language and diversity in South Africa, with particular focus on communities of practice in Potchefstroom, Northwest Province and Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on issues that include multilingualism, language contact, language and identity, and language variation. Students will become acquainted with primary concerns of and some of the recent insights from various aspects of multilingualism in South Africa, and will have a chance to explore applications of this knowledge in real life activities. Participants in the program will work on a small-scale ethnographic research project involving language in a multilingual society. Students who have already taken LING234 in Seattle or Linguistics majors may instead earn LING333 credits. LING234 fulfills the University of Washington’s Diversity requirement.

Field-based Population and Health Studies in Africa

Sam Clark (Health Track Students)
HONORS 233, Honors Social Science (I&S) or SOC 401, 5 credits

South Africa group photo 2014

The curriculum will include: (1) a formal introduction to the demography and epidemiology of Africa, with emphasis on South Africa; (2) an introduction to the data and analytical methods used to investigate population and health issues, using the Agincourt and Africa Centre data for examples; (3) an overview of the rural health system and healthcare delivery with visits to local clinics, health centers and hospital; (4) field-based experiences that mirror and bring depth to the in-class learning, including time observing healthcare delivery at local facilities; and finally (5) a group project that investigates a specific question of interest using a comparative approach with the Agincourt and Africa Centre data that spans the full sequence of activities required to conduct research – identifying a question, operationalizing it, finding/acquiring data, analysis, and write-up/publishing. The course will require an ability to be quantitative. Students will learn and be expected to apply basic data management and statistical analysis methods using the statistical analysis package R.

Field-based Practicum

Sam Clark and Clarissa Surek-Clark (all students)
HONORS 381, Honors Interdisciplinary, NW, I&S, VLPA, or LING 480 / SOC 395, 3 credits (All Students)

This is an experiential practicum that supports the substantive courses of this study abroad program. The practicum consists of many in-the-field experiences coordinated with the classroom learning that is part of those courses.

Foreign Studies in Linguistics

HONORS 233, Honors Social Science, or LING 390 / SOC 499, 5 credits (All students)

This course intends to introduce students to two distinct South African languages, Afrikaans and isiZulu. All students will learn the basics of conversational isiZulu, together with important cultural concepts as they relate to the social world and the health field. Students on the Linguistics track will focus on morphology, syntax, phonology and semantics of Afrikaans and isiZulu while in Potchefstroom and Durban, respectively.

Spring Seminar Preparatory Course

HONORS 381, Honors Interdisciplinary, VLPA, I&S, and NW, or LING 499 / SOC 499 (2 credits)

This is an introductory course in preparation for the study abroad offered in the Spring 2016 quarter and required of all students. Students will be introduced to fundamentals of South African history, language, culture, demography and epidemiology. The Health Track students will be given a basic introduction to the statistical package R and help to install it on their computers and make sure they are ready to use it before they leave. Critical information necessary to stay safe and healthy while living in South Africa will be provided, and students will be given thorough instruction on how to behave appropriately as visitors who represent the UW and the American people more broadly.

In the Spring quarter, Seattle hosts the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Part of the orientation for this Study Abroad program will involve attending South African movies featured at the SIFF as a shared group experience and point of departure for discussions and learning.

Program Staff


Clarissa Surek-Clark, Department of Linguistics

She and her family lived in Durban from 2001-2005 while she was a lecturer in Linguistics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Clarissa’s research and teaching in South Africa spans over fifteen years, focusing on isiZulu, the most widely spoken indigenous language in South Africa, and the pidgin Fanakalo. Her field of expertise is sociolinguistics in a broader sense, with focus on languages in contact and translation. In 1999, Clarissa was part of the first Group Project Abroad in Zulu, an endeavor funded by the US Department of Education as a Fulbright-Hayes Program, administered by Yale University. In 2001, Clarissa was a Fulbright scholar and later (2002-2005) a lecturer in linguistics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. She has led similar study abroad programs at the University of Washington in 2013 and 2014.

Samuel Clark, Department of Sociology

Professor Clark is a demographer working on topics pertaining African population, including mortality, fertility and HIV/AIDS. He has appointments at the University of the Witwatersrand and is a co-PI of the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) site that will host the students on the Health track.  He has worked closely with all of the key scientific and management personnel at the site for more than a decade.  Sam has also worked closely with various projects at the Africa Centre HDSS since 2000. He serves on the scientific board of a variety of centers and transnational institutions focusing on public health and demography. He co-directed a similar program at the University of Washington in 2014.

Program Assistants

Jonathan Muir, Department of Sociology, Graduate Student Assistant

Jonathan is a graduate student at the University of Washington completing a Ph.D. in Sociology and MPH in Epidemiology with a focus on Global Health. His research interests center on child and maternal health in the global south where he investigates the impact of armed conflict, trauma, and spatial inequality on child mortality and stunting. He has over 14 years of international related work experience, primarily working with the peoples of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Prior experience also includes working with a US based NGO that specialized in the resettlement of refugees and victims of human trafficking.

Allison Germain, Department of Linguistics, Graduate Student Assistant

Allison Germain is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Department of Linguistics focusing on the syntax of Slavic and Baltic languages and second language acquisition. She has studied abroad in Spain, Russia, and Lithuania.  She spent a total of two years in Russia, with one year spent teaching English in Vladimir. She is currently the Linguistics Undergraduate Adviser. She studied the Bantu language Lwitakho, which is spoken in Kenya, as an undergraduate and is excited to for the chance to visit Africa and assist the program in its mission to help students learn about this part of the world.

Karry Lee Jones, On-Site Coordinator

Kerry Lee Jones holds degrees in Linguistics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Griffith University in Australia. Currently she is a PhD candidate in Linguistics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her specialty is documentation of endangered Khoisan languages of the Kalahari, and language advocacy. She has lectured in the UW Study Abroad in South Africa since 2013.


In Johannesburg, we will stay at Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers in Soweto.  We have used this venue for one of our previous study abroad programs, and it has worked well.  The facilities are clean, inexpensive and friendly with good food, and they are close to all of the venues we visit in Johannesburg.

At Potchefstroom the Linguistics students will be housed in the North-West University’s graduate student housing facilities.  These are safe, convenient and allow the students to have contact with local students as part of scheduled activities and in their free time. The building is also near a small shopping mall with shops catering to students – with restaurants, pharmacy, basic supplies.

At the Agincourt rural research site everyone in the Health track will be housed that at the University of the Witwatersrand’s rural facility. This is a game farm with dormitory-style rooms and affordable single-room accommodations for program staff.   Meals will be catered.  The facility is safe, surrounded by a 12’ game fence with armed guards.

In Durban we are housed by the Glenmore Pastoral Centre, a non-denominational residential complex run by the Catholic Church. It is located near the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has easy access to other locations of interest to our group. There are typically two students per room, with gender-specific shared bathrooms. The Glenmore Centre also offers meals, and is located within walking distance to restaurants catering to students.

In Zululand, we stay at the Bushbaby Lodge, a budget safari lodge near Hluhluwe Park. Rooms are shared between two to four students, with shared bathrooms. Meals are provided.

For the final week in Durban, we will stay at the Salt Rock Hotel in Salt Rock.  The hotel is secure and provides full-service dining.  We will use the hotel conference rooms for conducting classes.

Program Expenses

Estimated Program Fee of $6,800, the UW Study Abroad Fee ($325), airfare, food (about $7/day). UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,600 – $2,000* roundtrip
*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket.

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
Non-Refundable UW Study Abroad Fee $325 July 8, 2016
Program Fee Balance $6,800 July 8, 2016

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans. For more information on financial aid, visit the IPE website application page.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, four short answer questions, two faculty recommendations, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.

Apply through the UW Study Abroad website

Applications due: January 29, 2016

For More Information

Clarissa Surek-Clark, surekcla@uw.edu
Sam Clark, samclark@uw.edu

Julie Villegas, Associate Director, Honors, International Lead, villegas@uw.edu

Katherine Kroger (kroegk@uw.edu), IPE Faculty Led Study Abroad Manager