Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Lessons from South Africa

South Africa-Botswana

Students listen to a presentation by a tour guide at Langa Township.

Having read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Shiwei Huang ’15 knew about the “dom passes” that black South Africans were required to carry during the apartheid era. But when she visited Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum and saw an exhibition on black South Africans’ fight for citizenship, she truly understood their plight.

South Africa-Botswana

Students visit the Old Fort Prison Complex, where political activists, including Nelson Mandela, were once detained.

“You can learn history from a book, but at the museum, you saw it, in videos, documents and pictures,” she said. “It had a big impact on me.”

That was one of many lessons that Huang and 15 other Wheaton students learned when they visited Cape Town and Johannesburg for the January course “Witnessing Contemporary African Society and Culture,” an interdisciplinary program launched in 2008.

The one-credit winter-break course, taught this year by professors James Freeman (economics) and Marcus Allen (political science), focuses on “trying to understand the culture, the sociology, the politics and the economics of post-apartheid South Africa—sort of witnessing the evolution, if you will, of a society reborn,” Allen said. [Read more...]

Traveling scholars

Juniors win Gilman awards to study abroad

Three Wheaton juniors this winter won awards from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to study abroad during the spring semester in Egypt, Spain and Brazil.

Maya Ennis, of Brooklyn, New York, traveled to Egypt with a $4,000 scholarship. Gilda Rodrigues, of Boston, went to Brazil with a $4,500 award, and Alexis Nieves, of Brooklyn, headed to Spain with an award of $3,000.

The Gilman Scholarship program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad, as well as the countries and regions to which they go, by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate because of financial constraints. Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the program is intended to help prepare U.S. students to play meaningful roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. [Read more...]

Return to music feeds the soul

Janna Frelich ’78Janna Frelich ’78 started singing when she was 2 years old, took up piano at 7, and joined her first chorus at 9. It was the beginning of a life steeped in music.

Second actsFrelich earned two degrees in music. She sang in adult choruses, wrote songs, learned to play the harp and worked as a church soloist. But as much as she loved music, it remained a part-time pursuit, until recently. In 2010, after working in health research positions for 26 years, Frelich quit her job as a statistical programmer and enrolled in graduate school to become a music therapist and mental health counselor. [Read more...]

Following her passion at 80

“A bonus life.”

That’s how Dorothy Weber Trogdon ’47 describes her career as a working poet, which didn’t reach full flower until she was 80 years old.

Second actsInitially, her life’s path led her to design, not poetry. Trogdon majored in art history at Wheaton, then earned a master of architecture degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. It was there she met her future husband Bill Trogdon, who was studying under the renowned Walter Gropius.

After marrying, the couple moved to Seattle, Bill’s hometown. He found work right away in a leading architectural firm, but for Dorothy it wasn’t so easy.

“In office after office, I was turned away because I was a woman,” she says. “One potential employer stated frankly that having a woman in the drafting room would mean the guys couldn’t tell their dirty stories.” [Read more...]