Trip to South Africa is a success

“The big headline for me was seeing FAMU students get involved in covering a global mega-event and come up with excellent stories in all kinds of journalistic formats. Not to mention getting a chance to do it overseas at a historical event, the first World Cup held on African soil,” said Joe Ritchie, knight chair and professor of journalism, who organized the trip.

From May 31 to July 16 the group reported on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, an international soccer tournament held every four years, and its impact on life in South Africa. They were joined by six students from Shantou University (China). During this experience students were forced to put their journalistic abilities to the test in a high-profile environment.

“This experience sharpened my skills as a journalist. It forced me to sink or swim,” said Clarece Polke, 19, a second year newspaper journalism student from Archer, Fla.

During their stay in South Africa, the students were responsible for posting stories with video, audio and text. This included blogs, photo galleries, podcasts and sound slides that covered a range of topics related to the World Cup, as well as the various social, economic and political issues of South Africa.

Ritchie wanted the students to gain more than a hands-on, extensive multimedia experience.

“I wanted them to leave gaining a cultural experience, learning a different language and being able to work well with students from another country,” Ritchie said.

Each FAMU student was paired with a student from Shantou University. They worked and lived together. Ritchie said from this they seemed to have started long lasting friendships.

“The six journalists left the trip with an open mind and transitioned out of their comfort zone,” said Ritchie.

Students said the highlight of the trip was their visit to Robben Island, where they were able to see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Mandela was South Africa’s eleventh president and its first democratically elected president.

Before his election to the presidency, Nelson Mandela protested against apartheid by leading the African National Congress. He was jailed for 27 years on a charge of sabotage for his work with the ANC.

“It was priceless to work in my field at the World Cup, especially being an African-American from an HBCU,” said Anamarie Shreeves 21, a fourth year magazine production student from District Heights, Md. “The South Africans were great and they were so impressed by black Americans. It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.”

Polke said the people were amazing. Everyone had their own story and each story stuck with her.

“The trip lived up to my expectations. I would definitely go back a million times more,” said Polke.

Ritchie said he hopes everyone remembers what a fantastic country South Africa is and how well they were able to adapt to operating in a strange environment.

“Planning a trip like this one takes a lot of effort, so it’s not a decision I’d make too quickly when considering if I would do it again,” said Ritchie. “However, FAMU students need more international exposure, so I’ll keep looking for opportunities to do things like this, even if it isn’t another World Cup.”

The cost trip was about $40,000 in total. Most of the expenses were covered from Professor Ritchie’s knight chair budget. Attorney Daryl Parks from Parks & Crump Attorneys at Law donated about $6,000, which cover some of the flight cost. Some FAMU alumni also sent donations to help with the cost.

For a full account of the student-produced 2010 World Cup coverage visit