INTERMISSION IS A WINTER TERM THAT TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND SEMESTERS EACH JANUARY. The 11th-Grade InterMission Program provides international, school-based immersion experiences for all juniors at no cost to them as part of a year-long Global Citizenship curriculum. Read on as Elizabeth, a current junior, shares her experience.
During InterMission, I traveled abroad to South Africa. During my trip, I traveled to two different schools: African Leadership Academy (ALA) and Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG). During our 10 days at ALA, we focused on entrepreneurship through different excursions and through following a model called B.U.I.L.D.: Believe, Understand, Invent, Listen and Deliver. During our project, groups identified areas upon which the Porter’s community could improve. We then used the B.U.I.L.D. process to find possible solutions. At the end of this one week process, we presented in front of students and teachers at ALA and were given feedback. During our time at OWLAG, we focused on female empowerment through different discussions including a Q+A with six Porter’s students in front of the school’s 11th grade class and other students from our InterMission group.
My favorite day was our first excursion to Soweto, a township in Johannesburg. On this day, we met three entrepreneurs who lived in all different parts of the township. My favorite of the three entrepreneurs was an urban farmer named Tsholofelo. During our time with her, we learned about how she decided to become an urban farmer and the difficulties she must face to be successful. After, she handed us two different seedlings and asked us to walk down the street and offer them to members of the community. When walking down the main road with a couple of friends, a woman saw us and asked what we were holding. When we offered her our seedlings, she generously invited us into her yard to meet her family. After we left, Smanga, our team leader, explained the importance of that visit. Since the Apartheid ended in 1991, there is still a lot of racial tension between whites and non-whites (how South Africans referred to people of color). The woman who invited us into her yard hoped to not only bridge the gap between our visible differences, but also to teach us about their culture and learn about ours in return.
Now being back in class, I have realized the long lasting effect of this visit with the family in Soweto. With this year’s theme at Porter’s being Confronting Ourselves: Cultivating Community, I was able to challenge my assumptions and realize the dangers of a single story, something that we’ve focused a lot on in class. Though our visit wasn’t very long, it helped me realize the similarities between South Africa and the United States. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to build new connections internationally; it is something I will carry with me forever.