(Left to right) Dane’Nicole Williams, Hailey King, Dazhane Labat, Tyrone Thompson, Madiagne Sarr, Kamani Taylor visited Mandela House in Soweto, a must-see stop for anyone visiting South Africa.
Twenty-eight Oakland students—from McClymonds, Castlemont, Skyline, Oakland Tech, Emery High and Ile Omode schools—are getting ready to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa to participate in the “The South Africa Project,” a two-week study abroad program.
Kharyshi Wiginton, founder of Culture Keepers, worked 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 started with McClymonds students but has expanded to include students from other schools.
“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 has named March 5 through March 12 as “South Africa Week.”
Enasia Mc-Elvaine, OUSD Board of Education student director and McClymonds High senior, explained why she wants to go to South Africa.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Supporting the trip is Patrisse Cullors-Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Global Network, author of “When They Call You a Terrorist.”
“When I was a young person, it was incredibly important and nurturing when adults created space for my education and success,” she said. “Kharyshi has been a mentor to so many people, and the work she is doing is saving lives.”
To find out more about the students participating and make a donation, visit www.sendmacktoafrica.com, www.gofundme.com/oaklandtojoburg, or call Kharyshi Wiginton at (510) 681-8051. Please also check out https://youtu.be/PtzG3YV8UQ0.