Alumni Reunite for South Africa Dinner

South African Flag

CHICAGO, IL, (May 10, 2008) - A South Africa reunion dinner was held in the Alumni/River Room in Magnuson Campus Center, for alumni who participated in psychology professor Don Klingberg’s South Africa course and study tour. Among the roughly 65 attendees was Ivor H. Jenkins, a South African anti-apartheid activist who received an honorary doctorate at Saturday morning’s commencement. A presentation at Anderson Chapel with Jenkins and South African Consul General Yusuf Omar followed the dinner.

From 1991 to 2003, Klingberg accompanied students to South Africa, the number of students growing with each successive year. From a small van in 1991, to a large tour bus in 2003, students travels ranged from trips to Robben Island to Table Mountain, to visits to Mamelodi and overnight stays with South African families. Klingberg, now retired from North Park, said that these trips are some of the most important events in his life.

Alumni from nearly all eight trips gathered to share a meal and to reminisce, each donning their respective years on their nametags. After dinner, Klingberg invited any of the travelers to share a memory from their trip. A common theme of generosity and selfless giving by South Africans was found in many of the stories. Many were fed meals nightly that South Africans would save for holiday meals or very special occasions.

The presentation in Anderson Chapel following the dinner featured a conversation between Jenkins and Klingberg, and a brief sharing from Yusuf Omar about his time in Chicago and his future plans. Jenkins spoke of the change in South Africa and though there are still obstacles, they have an “exceptionally strong bill of rights, a parliament that’s functional and a government that’s operational.” South Africa is a “country under construction,” Jenkins noted, and in the near future you can expect to see more subways, airports and roads. But amid the growth and change in this fledgling democracy, Jenkins cites that crime and racism is a crisis in the country.

“People are fleeing South Africa because of crime,” Jenkins said, recalling a story of white students abusing middle-aged domestic staff at a university. “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go still. We need to continue that process that [Nelson] Mandela set in motion.”