Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 27
 
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
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U.S. Makes “Positive Impression” On South African Students

Dilshanie Perera

The Impact Young Lives Foundation (IYL) selected five South African university students to tour nine cities in the United States as part of its “Expose, Enlighten, and Educate Experience.” The program was created to “expose young South Africans to democracy, educational opportunities and various business environments throughout America.” They will also receive a $1000 scholarship for their continued studies.

The students, all of whom attend universities in and around Johannesburg, began their journey on June 13 when they flew to Washington, D.C. After visiting the capital and also touring Philadelphia, they came to Princeton to hear about the work of the Princeton In Africa program, and to attend a presentation at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Yvonne Magopa, one of this year’s program participants, reported that they “learned about the various initiatives that Americans are taking part in in Africa.” She cited a Bristol-Myers Squibb program addressing community involvement in HIV/AIDS treatment called “Secure the Future.”

Gabriella Du Plessis, another participant in the program, said that her first impressions of America were positive, noting that she found “the love that Americans have for their country” quite poignant. One of her cohorts, Jemaine Swartz, added that he previously “had the wrong perceptions of America” and was impressed by the diversity and spirit of the people they had met.

In order to be selected for the program, the students had to describe a challenge they had faced and overcome, and explain how they had grown from the experience. Xolile Ndhlovu spoke of her own attempts to climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. After saving and planning for the excursion for years, she had to stop prior to reaching the summit because of altitude sickness. Ms. Ndhlovu said that being unable to attain her goal was frustrating, but that she had learned a lot about herself while reflecting on the nature of limitation and challenge.

IYL was founded by Christopher Howard in 2000. Its mission is to “identify exceptional young leaders amongst previously disadvantaged South African university students and transform them into globally-minded citizens by providing both scholarships and exposure to a well-established civil society in action.” Visit www.iylfoundation.org for more details.

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