The death of Nelson Mandela is being mourned around the world. As South Dakota flags fly at half-staff today to honor of the former South African president, his life and death are particularly significant to an Augustana administrator.
For most of the world, his name is synonymous with courage and perseverance.
Nelson Mandela changed the course of modern history while leading South Africa out of apartheid and serving as the nation's first black president.
"I think what Mandela embodied in many ways is the spirit of South Africans, a group of South Africans who hadn't had a voice," Susan Hasseler said.
Hasseler spends much of her career studying Mandela.
The Augustana Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs traveled half-a-dozen times to South Africa and got a better idea of his life and legacy.
"My experiences in South Africa, I would call life changing," Hasseler said.
His unwavering kindness, even during oppressive conditions was evident during the 27 year incarceration on Robbins Island, according to Hasseler, who's visited the maximum security, hard labor prison.
"His guards were illiterate and so he began to teach them," Hasseler said. "And that amazing capacity to bridge and to work for a common ground was so striking."
Hasseler calls Mandela a modern-day peacemaker who left his mark on a better world.
"There are so few Nelson Mandelas in the world," Hasseler said. "When you lose a person like that, there is just a sense of international loss."
Augustana professors from the areas of government, education, fine art, international studies and students will discuss the impact of Mandela's work in transforming South Africa and the world in a forum titled "Without Democracy There Cannot Be Peace: Nelson Mandela, South Africa and the World."
It will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, in room 201 of the Madsen Center.
The event is free and open to the public.