Keeping up with Altmans: Adventures with Jack DeFraites

Keeping up with Altmans: Adventures with Jack DeFraites

Since the end of the spring semester in May, Jack DeFraites of the ’24 cohort has had a non-stop multicultural and linguistically immersive summer and fall semester. He bolstered his German language skills working at Concordia Language Villages, participated in a ten-day trip to Israel and Palestine with Tulane Hillel, and settled into his fall semester abroad in Southern Africa.

Jack started his summer working at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota. Run by Concordia College, this program offers fifteen different world language immersion summer camps for children. Jack worked as a counselor for the German language division and signed an oath promising to speak only German with the campers. 

Jack purposefully chose to work at Concordia to prepare for a position as a German teacher's assistant in Windhoek, Namibia this fall. But before he made his way to Southern Africa, he participated in the Tulane Israel Leadership Trip. This trip to Israel and Palestine was offered through Tulane Hillel in August. 

Jack's trip to Israel and Palestine
Jack's visit to Nazareth, a predominantly Muslim city in Israel and the hometown of Jesus.

After spending ten days exploring the region (and a 36-hour layover in New Orleans), he made his way to South Africa to start his fall semester abroad. He is studying with the Augsburg University Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) Program "Decolonizing the Mind: Racial and Environmental Justice in South Africa & Namibia."

He says, "I decided to embark on these two wonderful programs together because I recognized that consecutively visiting the Holy Land and Southern Africa offer an invaluable perspective for comparing environments that suffer from historical disunity and inequality. 

Jack with the CGEE cohort
Jack with members of the CGEE Program.

“At their cores, both regions represent the intersectional essences of my own identity of growing up in New Orleans, where faith is viewed as a top cultural priority and where the Civil Rights Movement mirrored the liberation struggle against Apartheid.”

The program started in Johannesburg and Cape Town, where Jack and his classmates conducted interviews with professors and locals in the communities.

Some of the interview highlights for Jack included speaking with Antoinette Sithole, survivor of the 1976 Soweto Uprising; Reverend Alan Story, a white progressive preacher of liberation theology who criticizes the ruling ANC party's crimes of State Capture; and Noor Ebrahim, resident of District Six in Cape Town, a diverse and multicultural neighborhood that was demolished in the 1970s via forced removal by the apartheid government.

Cape Town, South Africa
The Bo-Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa.

Jack then made his way to Windhoek, Namibia, where he will spend the rest of the fall semester taking classes in political science, history, and religion as part of the CGEE program. 

In addition to his courses, Jack is also an intern at the Goethe-Institut in Central Windhoek where he works as a teacher's assistant for the B1 German Level evening classes. His experience at Concordia Language Village played a big part in preparing him for this experience. “A lot of the teaching methods and confidence I built at the camp I've been able to apply to teaching German in Namibia.”

Goethe Institut in Windhoek, Namibia
Caption from Jack: “The view along Fidel Castro Street where I work, Goethe-Institut Namibia, in the foreground, and the controversial Christuskirche in the background. In between the Christuskirche and the Independence Museum (not viewable at this angle) the Imperial Germans ran a concentration camp in 1906 where 5,000 Herero POWs were kept and many died. It is imperative not to forget this history.”

Jack has a message for the leaders of each program: “Special thanks to program leaders Ron Gubitz of Tulane Hillel and Albertina Shifotoka of CGEE Namibia for encouraging spaces of open dialogue that examine the necessity of fighting for social justice, something I will never forget when I return to the U.S."

Jack at the Independence Museum in Windhoek
Caption from Jack: “Me gazing introspectively in front of the final installation of the Independence Museum in Windhoek, which was built and artistically designed by a North Korean architectural firm. The man in the background is the first President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma. He is the Nelson Mandela equivalent liberation figure in Namibia who has a large cult of personality. Although he left power in 2005, he is still alive and still holds influence in the one-party dominant state controlled by the SWAPO party.”

Jack is a recipient of the Altman Program Scholarly Engagement Grant.