International Studies & Programs

Katilyn Jatczak - Labor Relations and Human Resources in South Africa

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Published: Friday, 22 Feb 2019 Author: Cheryl Ann Benner

Name: Kaitlyn Jatczak

Status: Graduate Student

Major: Human Resources and Labor Relations

Hometown: Canton, Michigan

Program: Labor Relations/Human Resources in South Africa

My study abroad program to South Africa was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to experience it. Traveling is a passion of mine and this program allowed me to see a part of the world that I never thought I would. The breathtaking views of Table and Lion Head Mountains, along with the stunning bush filled with wild zebra, lions, giraffe and elephants, is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Not only were South Africa's landscape and wildlife amazing, the people and culture were just as unique and vibrant. On the program our class had the privilege to study Change Management in Human Resources and Labor Relations at Nelson Mandela University. The South African students whom we studied alongside were extremely welcoming of us into their classroom. They were eager to share their knowledge and perspective with us students from Michigan State University. During our first day in the classroom the South African students were kind enough to prepare us a home cooked lunch with over 20 different authentic South African and Indian dishes. The food was bright in color and savory in aroma. After we tried each dish they were eager to see what we thought of the food. You could tell that they were proud to share their culture with us. Throughout our week in the classroom, many topics and issues were discussed in regards to human resources in both countries. It was eye-opening to learn about the struggles that South Africa's businesses face with inflation, unemployment, and various taxes that are being enacted on them. By the end of the week the students from both countries seemed to understand each other's perspectives just a little bit more. Although it was sad to say goodbye to our new friends we were able to exchange contact information so that we can stay in touch into our post-graduate lives. Without this study abroad experience I would not have had the opportunity to experience such a beautiful and unique country or have made the lifelong friends that I did. This experience has equip me to me a well-rounded and understanding human resources professional and I hope to take some of what I learned into my professional career. I am forever grateful for this experience and hope that the tradition can continue with future students, for years to come.