Moody Exchange Scholars program sends students to South Africa this summer

By Jane R. Elgass

Eleven U-M students will travel to southern Africa this summer and two scholars from South Africa will come to the U-M, inaugurating the Moody Exchange Scholars program of the South Africa Initiative. The exchange program honors Charles D. Moody and his wife, Christella. Moody joined the U-M as director of the Program for Educational Opportunity in 1970, was the vice provost for minority affairs in 1987-93 and was named director of the South Africa Initiative in 1993. He retired in 1996.

The scholars coming from South Africa are junior faculty who will have an opportunity to work on their dissertations and hone their research skills. The exchange also is designed to address a "logjam at the lecturer's level in universities in South Africa," says Oscar Barbarin, interim executive director of the South Africa Initiative.

To progress to the professorial tracks in South Africa, scholars must have a Ph.D., Barbarin notes. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have difficulty in pursuing graduate and doctoral studies. "Their stay at the U-M will give them a jump-start on their careers."

Four of the U-M students will be headquartered at the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi in Zomba, Malawi. The others will work with a variety of agencies in South Africa.

Barbarin explains that the U-M students have a variety of research and intervention interests on which they'd like to expand, and have been matched with agencies and organizations in Malawi and South Africa that have like needs. They will have an opportunity to use their developing professional skills an array of issues, including poverty, violence, child development and economic development.

Four will be headquartered at the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi. Malawi, Barbarin says, is one of the poorest countries in southern Africa. The students in Malawi will encounter quite a different setting compared with the United States. "Social research is much more 'applied' there compared with the United States," Barbarin explains. "We have the leisure to do theory. They have immediate, concrete needs, like water supply, provision and delivery of health services, and economic development." The other U-M students will work with agencies in South Africa.

Most of the U-M students are enrolled in a master's in social work program, some pursuing joint degrees in public health or public policy. The practicum experience is required for about one-third of them.

The other students are taking advantage of an additional educational opportunity.

Students who will be going to Malawi are: Kelly Burns, Kim Kelly, Jennifer Jackson and Cassie Slisher.

Those going to South Africa are: Sang Lee, Alicia Wilson, Jill Kalish, Rachel Barish, Andrew Lehto, David Whiter and Jessica Worden.

Some of the students' expenses are supported by the scholars program. They also have been conducting fund-raising programs on their own. Individuals interested in supporting their work may make contributions to the Charles and Christella Moody Fund at the South Africa Initiative.

For information about the Fund or the activities supported by the Initiative, call 763-7778 or visit the Web at http://www.umich.edu/~saioum.