Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 28
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
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Six South African High Schoolers Visit Princeton, Learn Leadership

Linda Arntzenius

Six students from South Africa were in Princeton on Monday, July 9, as part of an annual 20-day, six-city tour of the United States organized by the non-profit Impact Young Lives (IYL) foundation.

The trip is designed to expose the young South Africans — regarded as exceptional leaders from the country's disadvantaged high schools — to "democracy and educational opportunities throughout America."

"This year's scholars are some of the brightest we've had in the program," said Dr. Christopher B. Howard, who first visited South Africa a decade ago and founded IYL in 2000.

"Our mission at IYL is simple: we identify exceptional young leaders amongst previously disadvantaged South African high school students and transform them into global-minded citizens by providing both scholarships and opportunities to travel."

Mr. Howard expressed the hope that the students will ultimately apply all that they learn to improving their home country and global community.

A former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of the US Air Force Academy who served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, Mr. Howard said: "Although South Africa has placed a decade between its current self and its sobering Apartheid past, many of its citizens still lack access to that nation's hopes and dreams. Extending Africa's future depends upon the youth of today."

The six former high school students — Lerato Maboya, Bathobile Mahlobo, Beatrice Mthebule, Gugu Mthembu, Masana Mulaudzi and Xolani Ndaba — are traveling throughout June and July, and learning about American culture along the way.

The five women and one man were selected based on a 1,000-word essay and personal interviews.

Prior to their visit to Princeton, the six students spent time in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Besides meeting exemplars of leadership in business, science, technology, education, media, and government — their journey began with a reception at the U.S. embassy in Pretoria — the six students also found time for popular American activities such as eating ice cream. They stopped off at Princeton's Halo Pub on Monday, July 9 before moving on to the next leg of their tour in New York City. The trip culminates in Boston on Thursday, July 19.

When they return to South Africa, the students will receive support toward their academic goals in the form of a $1,000 scholarship from the foundation to attend a South African university or technical college of their choice. Ms. Maboya and Ms. Mahlobo will attend the University of Witwatersrand; Ms. Mthebule and Ms. Mthembu, the University of Johannesburg; Ms. Mulaudzi, the University of Cape Town; and Mr. Ndaba, Johannesburg CTI University.

"The program believes that the next generation of South African graduates can contribute toward the prosperity needed to sustain the entire continent," said Mr. Howard.

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