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Students to travel to South Africa

Anna Boarini | Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One group of graphic design students will spend spring break helping South African refugees understand their rights through the “together +” anti-xenophobia campaign.

Seven Notre Dame graphic and industrial design students will travel to South Africa over break. The educational and promotional campaign is supported by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and CUSE.

Junior Lynn Yeom said what started out as a project in her graphic design class took on much greater meaning — becoming a project to combat discrimination and violence against refugees.

“We are trying to solve [a problem] in a graphic design way … an educational way,” she said.  

Yeom said there is great tension between the black South African community and refugees coming from other countries in Africa.

“[Black] South Africans are blaming refugees, saying they are taking all the jobs and that [black South Africans] are not living better because of the refugees,” she said.

To try and help ease this tension, students will use design as a means of promoting diversity, creating a variety of materials from informational booklets for refugees to a children’s book, Yeom said.

Senior Kassandra Randazzo’s group is working on educating the refugees about healthcare.

“Many refugees are not fully aware that the country guarantees them the same rights as native South Africans to fair and equal care,” she said. “We’ve designed materials that explicitly state what they are entitled to and have translated it into a variety of languages to ensure that the message reaches its audience.”

Design professor Robert Sedlack and alumna Andrea Pellegrino visited Johannesburg, South Africa in October and began a relationship with the Kgosi Neighborhood Foundation, (KNF) which seeks to bring educational light into the lives of vulnerable children.

The pair traveled to South Africa to conduct preliminary research and identify challenges faced by refugees that could be addressed by Notre Dame graphic and industrial design students.

The group of graphic design students will be working on four different projects with the KNF.

Yeom’s group is working on creating a booklet for refugees.

“Newcomers [to South Africa] can get it,” Yeom said. “The booklet talks about shelters, places to go for help and how to get identification and housing documents.”

Other groups are creating a children’s book to help the younger generation learn that refugees are not much different than they are, Yeom said.

Each of the student groups will visit specific areas in South Africa to help them better understand the audiences they are trying to reach with their designs.

“We are traveling to Johannesburg and … around the Pretoria region so we can identify the way the refugees go about getting identification documents,” Yeom said.

Randazzo said she and her group will visit hospitals, such as the Baragwanath Hospital in the Soweto area of Johannesburg, to learn more about how refugees deal with healthcare.

While the students are working on separate projects in their respective groups, toward the end of the week they will all come together to paint a mural.

“We will bring the community together and paint a mural that indicates harmony and togetherness,” Yeom said.

Contact Anna Boarini at