Two postgraduate students, Ms Pretty Abraham and Mr Siwakhile Ngcobo from the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics are set to embark on an international exchange programme to the Free University in Amsterdam as part of Bridging Gaps, an initiative of the Centre for Contextual Biblical Interpretation.
The two will embark on the programme in September.
The Bridging Gaps programme enables students from Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East to work on their own research for a period of three months under auspices of a supervisor of the Protestant Theological University (PThU) or Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). During the programme, students are exposed to Dutch society and church life together with other theology students from all around the world.
Abraham is a Master’s graduate in the History of Christianity programme. She did important master’s research-work on the role of memory and religion in the context of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in conflict settings.
Ngcobo is a PhD candidate in the Gender and Religion programme and is currently developing his PhD work thinking about the process of masculinity construction and media in the Pentecostal Tradition.
‘I applied for the programme because it exposes students to the use of the bible in different cultural contexts. I get to be a student in an intercultural setting which is exciting and get to expand on my theological knowledge. It is a great opportunity to enhance my research project at the backdrop of contextual theology. Exchange programmes offer students an opportunity for networking and engagement with students from different contexts, and an opportunity to gain transferrable skills for career advancement,’ said Ngcobo.
Added Abraham: ‘This opportunity will give me access to research resources and a diversity of advisors and conversation partners that might enhance my research. To other students, grab every opportunity that you come across. One way or the other, it will enhance your academic prospects and connect you to a community of people who become valuable resources in the long run.’
Said Professor Charlene van der Walt, UKZN Gender and Religion programme Head and Ujamaa Centre Deputy Director: ‘The collaboration between the School and the Free University of Amsterdam through the Bridging Gaps programme has created a number of creative possibilities for exchange between the two institutions that have mutually benefited staff and students connected to both institutions. We stand in a long legacy of creative and dynamic partnership that has impacted students, staff and faith communities both in the Dutch and a variety of African contexts.’
This year, as part of the exchange, van der Walt and Rev. Sithembiso Zwane of the Ujamaa Centre, will form part of the teaching team in the Bridging Gaps programme and will share learnings on Contextual Bible Reading developed from within the Centre.