Oakland, Calif. – Twenty-eight Oakland students from McClymonds, Castlemont, Skyline, Oakland Tech, Emery High and Ile Omode Schools will soon travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, to participate in “The South Africa Project,” a two-week study abroad program.
“For me, travel represents the opportunity to learn in ways that classroom instruction cannot compete with. The chance to experience the people, places and histories of other communities is invaluable, especially for students who are curious about their ancestral roots. My first travel abroad was to Kenya as a college student. It changed my life forever!” declares Greg Hodge, former OUSD School Board representative and chief network officer for the Brotherhood of Elders Network.
Kharyshi Wiginton, founder of Culture Keepers, works to build cultural awareness through study abroad opportunities for Oakland students. This year will be her third cohort of Oakland students participating in “The South Africa Project.” The project has expanded to include students from McClymonds, Skyline, Castlemont, Oakland Tech and Emery High Schools as well as Ile Omode School.
“When I was a young person, it was incredibly important and nurturing when adults created space for my education and success. Kharyshi has been a mentor to so many people and the work she is doing is saving lives,” observes strong supporter Patrisse Cullors-Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Global Network and author of “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir,” artist and organizer.
“This is a life changing experience for my students, as many of them have never traveled outside of Oakland or even travelled on a plane,” said Wiginton. “And with the current excitement about Africa, thanks to the movie ‘Black Panther,’ it is now more important than ever for these young people to see themselves and get a deeper soul understanding of who they are.”
Culture Keepers is in its final fundraising push trying to raise enough money for the upcoming trip. There will be multiple fundraisers throughout the month of March, as the group has a goal of raising at least $30,000 over the next month. The total cost of the trip per student is $3,500, which includes roundtrip airfare, charter bus rental, housing, food, entertainment and excursions. Culture Keepers is deeming March 5 through March 12 as “South Africa Week.”
“I want to go to Africa because I feel like I am becoming more in touch with my origins, and I love the interactions you get to have with people who are not Americans. As a student at McClymonds, it’s easy to get caught up in the high school drama and get distracted.
“Being able to leave our environment and go outside the country will allow us to experience something outside of the norm and look toward our future. There are people in Oakland who have never really left Oakland to see that there is something more. We’ve grown up in poverty, and I want me and my peers to know that there is more out there for us,” says Enasia Mc-Elvaine, OUSD School Board student director and McClymonds High School senior.
To find out more about the students participating and make a donation, visit www.sendmacktoafrica.com, https://www.gofundme.com/oaklandtojoburg, or call Kharyshi Wiginton at 510-681-8051. Please also check out https://youtu.be/PtzG3YV8UQ0.