By Marian Hana
In August 2023, I was among a group of ten students embarking on an exciting journey to South Africa.
Eight of us were enrolled in the IPED program, while the other two were pursuing Economics graduate
program. We attended a remarkable three-week adventure: an intensive course on Emerging Markets.
The course took place in the beautiful campus of the University of Pretoria in Hatfield. The focus of the
course was to delve into the economics of BRICS nations, exploring three key areas such as
macroeconomic analysis, foreign exchange rate stability, and stock exchange markets.
What made this course truly stand out was its unique structure, providing us with a holistic perspective
on the subjects discussed through class lectures, group work, and site visits. After studying each topic,
we engaged in group work, putting our knowledge into practice by researching and analyzing one of the
BRICS countries. The following day, each group presented their assignments to the whole class, allowing
us to learn from each other’s findings and analysis. Site visits added an invaluable lens into the class as
it allowed us to experience firsthand how organizations operate, and the challenges they face in our
globalized economy. We had the chance to visit Johnsburg Stock Exchange (JSE), SA Reserve Bank and
National Treasury, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), JP Morgan, BRICS, the National
Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South
Africa (NUMSA). In each of these places, we learned about the role of the organization, its contribution
in the economy, and we had dynamic discussions with Q&As.
It wasn’t just about work; we also had the opportunity to have some fun and immerse ourselves in the
beauty and culture of South Africa. One memorable weekend was spent in the capital city, Cape Town,
where we had the chance to explore major landmarks. We visited Table Mountain, immersing ourselves
in its breathtaking natural beauty. We also explored some of Stellenbosch’s wine farms and enjoyed the
delights of the country’s thriving wine industry. During our stay in Cape Town, we were accommodated
in an authentic and beautiful guesthouse. In the evenings, after our city explorations, we would gather
to share delightful dinners, engage in lively conversations, and enjoy the starry night-sky. Another true
adventure that we can never forget was our Safari trip at the Kruger National Park. We got to see the
‘big five’ animals and experience the tranquility of nature as we saw the animals in their natural habitat.
The sheer beauty of the nature and animals resonated with me so much making the entire experience
feel so surreal!
We had the opportunity to spend time with our beloved Dean, Dr. Ann Gaylin; sharing news, discussing
our career aspirations and enjoying wonderful meals amidst the beautiful landscape of South Africa. We
capped our course with a trip to Soweto Township, where we visited Kliptown Youth Program (KYP), and
learned about the wonderful transformation they do among their community.
Overall, Emerging Markets course in South Africa provided us with an unparalleled experience. It was
more than just an academic pursuit; it was an opportunity to explore the rich culture of South Africa and
build stronger community with each other that will last a lifetime.