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Read updated information about the trip >

Outreach to Africa

In the time Thomasin Holly has been a USC student, it is estimated 650,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS in the African country of Malawi. With the help of USC alumni, Holly, a junior visual communications major, and a class of students are traveling to Malawi this summer to participate in a service learning study abroad program that will help some of those children.

"I didn't want to study abroad just to sightsee; I wanted to do service, too," Holly says. The service learning component of the 11-day Malawi expedition stuck out to alumna Rev. Janet Tarbox, as well. "I'm really proud of the university for being such a hotbed of involvement," Tarbox says. Rev. Tarbox and husband Tal LeGrand donated five $1,000 scholarships to go to five students participating in the trip led by associate professor of visual communications Van Kornegay. africa quote

The USC students will travel into Malawian villages to launch mobile medical clinics. The clinics are set up to provide communities with medical tests, vaccinations and basic care. Students will assist with the clinics and document the work they are doing with photos, video and written word. "They won't just be observers, they'll be participants," Kornegay promises. The content produced will be used to promote a Malawian non-governmental organization, Ministry of Hope. "It's great not only for the organization because they get promotional material, but also for me because I get to put things in my portfolio," Holly says.

Malawi is known as the "warm heart of Africa," but also for being hard-hit by the AIDS pandemic. "Thinking about being an orphan anywhere is bad; thinking about being an orphan in Africa is awful," says Kornegay. Without any safety net or formal government assistance, children orphaned by AIDS often have to rely on the assistance of organizations like Ministry of Hope. The Malawi-based organization will use the student produced content on their website to tell the story of the work they are doing to help AIDS orphans.

"Sometimes a photograph can encapsulate a story," Rev. Tarbox says. "I'm hoping that is a piece of what happens to one student, or five students, or however many have that moment where they realize how important the visual is in addition to words." Though not journalism alumni themselves, Rev. Tarbox and LeGrand have a history of giving back to the J-school through the Buchanan Scholarship. The scholarship is in memory of former School of Journalism and Mass Communications Dean George A. Buchanan and Charlotte Buchanan LeGrand.

The Malawi contribution, however, was personal for Rev. Tarbox. "I did want to make some kind of contribution to photography with the school of journalism, because photography is what I enjoy," she said. Photography is important to Holly, one of the five recipients, as well. Holly hopes to work as a photographer after graduating and says this financial aid is making her trip to Malawi possible. "It would have been really difficult to find the money for this trip on my own," Holly says. Participating students pay a program fee, tuition and cover the costs for the required travel vaccinations to enter Malawi. Kornegay has traveled to the country five times in the past six years. He serves on Ministry of Hope's U.S. executive committee, so he knows the importance these students' photographs and other work will have on the organization's success.

"We saw a huge growth in fundraising once we started doing things like websites," Kornegay says. That website was designed by visual communications students as a class assignment. The Ministry of Hope promotional video was filmed largely by Amanda Tatum, a Magellan scholar and 2010 graduate. A spring 2013 public relations course pitched PR campaign ideas to the organization. "There is really a J-school story to this group," Kornegay says.



Reprinted from InterCom, the college alumni magazine
Story & Design By: Chris Brown

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