Letter from the Producer


It has been an interesting and inspiring time to visit South Africa and its universities.

Group photo of participants at YaleGALE conference at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, including participants from both Yale and NMMU

While South African universities are facing increasing financial constraints from government budgets, they also face outspoken student concerns about insufficient progress in the transformation of universities into engines of educational opportunity and achievement across society. Certainly, dramatic progress has been made during the past quarter century, but the opportunity for more remains. The delegation noticed certain similarities with the concerns about campus climate that have emerged over the past year at Yale and other campuses in the U.S.

Student demonstrations have been evident in both countries. However, the student unrest in South Africa has been more comparable to the 1960s in America, when students marched and buildings were burned.

South Africa, like the US, is also in the midst of an election cycle, with its own series of political protests in each country. Some in each country have involved violence.

One of our conferences was even cancelled because of security concerns. Nonetheless YaleGALE persevered. Together we took more intellectual and emotional risks than usual on a YaleGALE trip. For the most part, they proved worthwhile – astonishing even. Some of our university encounters were quite raw, mostly in a deeply positive way.

Yale alumni, family and friends grouped on steps at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

We visited three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and other places of cultural interest documenting the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the country as well as the wrenching transition from apartheid to a democracy. YaleGALE participants found them both marvelous and moving, enriching our understanding of the country and our university exchanges.

It was an exhilarating time to be in South Africa. Our hosts were gracious and resourceful, and we can’t thank them enough. But I am most appreciative of the dedication and spirit of adventure among our volunteers. The scheduling for this trek was challenging, but YaleGALE volunteers accomplished much on this extra-ordinary journey.

Ben Slotznick ’70, Dra ’73
Producer, YaleGALE in South Africa 2016

Dates: June 27 – 11, 2016
Delegation: 36 Yalies, family and friends
Official photographer: Stuart Cohen ’70
Program Producer: Ben Slotznick ’70, Dra ’73