Name: Megan Bradley
School: Syracuse University
Major: Public Health
Abroad Program: SIT South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy
Hello! My name is Megan Bradley and I’m studying abroad in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa through the SIT Community Health and Social Policy program. This World Partner program is centered on field-based scholarship, meaning classes are supplemented with home-stays and excursions to facilitate experiential learning. I loved the opportunity to learn about community health firsthand and live with Zulu families!
I spent the past week in the rural villages of Nzinga and Sandanezwe in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. For the past two months I’ve been living with a Zulu family in a crowded township near Durban, so it was nice to escape the city and learn about rural South African life. The purpose of the excursion was to conduct a community situation analysis and learn about healthcare and life in the villages. It was an ideal place to study because the region has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. I lived with a very traditional Zulu family and visited schools, health clinics, farms, and a traditional healer (called a “sangoma” in Zulu) to better understand the community and their views towards health. I also visited a beading co-op in the town of Impendle because traditional Zulu beading is a major part of the local culture and economy. Lastly, we hiked to a beautiful waterfall and lookout point to explore our surroundings and get some fresh mountain air.
The trip was a valuable opportunity to put my knowledge of public health into practice and to immerse myself in Zulu culture. I felt deeply connected to the community, from the picturesque landscape to the openhearted people. When you are at your happiest in a rural village without electricity or indoor plumbing, you know you’ve found something special. I can’t wait to go back!