Students visit with Mandela guard for International Studies Week
Students had the unique experience of virtually visiting with Christo Brand, a former prison guard who was responsible for guarding Nelson Mandela, during International Education Week, November 16-20.
Brand’s Nov. 18 presentation was hosted by the International Studies Department in partnership with the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies. International Education Week celebrates the benefits of an international education and student exchanges worldwide.
Born into the Afrikaans culture, Brand developed a friendship with Mandela, a famous black South African freedom fighter, while the two were at the notorious Robben Island prison. Brand supported Mandela’s eventual release from prison and his fight against apartheid. His books, Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend and Doing Life with Mandela, recount how their two cultures collided in forming an extraordinary friendship over the years.
“We were excited to have Mr. Brand tell his story as part of International Education Week,” said IS Coordinator Jessica Miller, who coordinated the week’s activities. “The IS department is committed to promoting a better understanding of and respect for different cultures of the world and his visit gave students the opportunity to open up conversations about the complexities and contradictions inherent in one’s culture.”
The students also participated in an internationally themed Painting with a Twist party and trivia night, a meet and greet with the International Student Club, run/walk and movie night where students could log onto a free list of culturally diverse movies. Miller said the week-long activities were entertaining and educational for the students, and that they had a fun time laughing and learning together.
“International Studies is an important component of the Southwest educational experience and a means to empower students and faculty,” Miller said. Miller also manages the college’s study abroad program and one-week course trips to places such as South Africa, Denmark, France, Peru, Cuba and England.
For more information about the IS program, visit https://www.southwest.tn.edu/intstudies/.
Jessica Miller contributed to this article.