Friends of Brandeis in South Africa

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The first ever Friends of Brandeis in South Africa function, held at All Africa House, University of Cape Town (UCT) on Wednesday 9 July, 2003 was a great success. This was the first event planned by the International Collaborations Network at Brandeis, an informal committee of administrators, faculty, and staff working together on projects with an international focus. Chaired by Marci McPhee, assistant director of the Ethics Center, its members consist of those whose work involves the international dimension of Brandeis in any domain.

Dr Sally Frankental of the Department of Social Anthropology at UCT welcomed the guests who included, among others, Brandeis alumni, former Brandeis International Fellows, as well as the 2003 Ethics and Coexistence Student Fellows. She then introduced Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UCT (Research and Innovation) and a participant in the first Brandeis International Fellows program, who proceeded to delight the group with her warmth and enthusiasm for the occasion. Her address sparked off a lively discussion around students’ and Fellows’ experiences at Brandeis as well as the responses of Brandeis students in South Africa [including those who had travelled from Johannesburg to be present]. Ms. de la Rey circulated among the guests, engaging them in extended conversations, and reported that she’d both enjoyed and learnt a great deal from the encounter.

2003 Ethics and Coexistence Student Fellows Deirdre Mooney and Matt Harris reported on their activities and experiences during their summer 2003 internships. Each provided insights into the actual work for which they had come to Cape Town and shared their own responses to what they learned in the process.

Lara Hoffenberg of UCT’s international office was especially interested in the discussion and debate in which everyone present participated so avidly, and commented on the particular value for her work of such informal and open interaction. The guests for whom the function was an introduction to Brandeis and the work of the Centre were most interested in the content of the presentations and discussion, and were impressed by the materials on display, which they perused enthusiastically. Several invitees who could not be present expressed their disappointment and regret and asked to be informed of any future Brandeis gatherings.

The All Africa House on UCT’s middle campus was a most appropriate venue for the event and the ambience was further enhanced by the caterer’s aesthetic presentation and the imaginative and tasty snacks served. All the guests voted the evening a great success and the South Africans asked to be included again should a similar event be held in the future.