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The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Poly continues six-year partnership with iThuba by sending Upper School students to South Africa for the second time

Rick Caragher

With the goal of uniting cultures and deep-diving into the origins of apartheid, 12 Poly Upper School students and three Poly chaperones flew to Cape Town, South Africa on the Global Initiatives Program’s (GIP) South Africa trip over spring break.

Poly alumna Maya Flannery ‘17 initially introduced iThuba Innovation Hub to Poly in 2016. Flannery, who had visited Cape Town every year since she was young, established the six-year partnership between Poly Women’s Service League (WSL) and iThuba, an after-school educational tutoring initiative for elementary schoolers in South Africa. Since then, during the annual Fall Dance show, WSL holds a silent auction of donations by local businesses to support iThuba.

“Because of all the great work WSL had done, GIP sent a group of students, some WSL representatives and others, to South Africa in 2019,” said GIP Co-Coordinator and head chaperone Rick Caragher. “It was such a success, all the students were able to connect with one another so well, and we said that we’d do it again next year to keep it going and alive. Then, COVID hit, and we had to cancel the 2020 trip, so this is our first year back since the pandemic.”

On this year’s trip, the Poly students collaborated with high school students at the Langa Education Assistance Program (LEAP) in Langa, one of the three townships in Cape Town, on a project to help create educational programs for the iThuba Innovation Hub students.

“We had the privilege of immersing ourselves in a community that is much different from ours,” said junior JP Bryson, one of the students on the trip. “While it was a service trip in some ways, we got just as much out of the experience as the Langa students did.”

Rick Caragher

Along with working with local students, the Poly students visited other sites in Cape Town, such as the Archbishop Desmond Tutu exhibit, Aquila Private Game Reserve and Cape of Good Hope.

With a stronger understanding of themselves and the world around them, several students noted that they were left with great memories and lessons from this trip.

“South Africa was a memorable experience because I was able to explore a culture that was very different from Pasadena,” reflected Katie Sam, a junior and one of the students on the trip. “I will never forget all the people I met and the memories I made.”

Caragher added, “I am very grateful that the school provides the resources to allow community members to experience learning beyond our classroom walls by traveling overseas and to other cultures. Those are life lessons. It might not show up on an AP test, but it helps us plant the right seeds in students to become mature, empathetic adults.”

Sophomore Lennon Standridge, another student on the trip, shared, “In South Africa, apart from all the diverse aspects that I was able to witness, such as the food, experiences and overall environment, I was able to grow closer not only with the people who attended the trip but also with the high schoolers we had the opportunity to meet.”

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Ashley Kim
Ashley Kim, News Editor
Grade: 11 Years on Staff: 3 Fun Fact: I may learn how to drive before I learn how to ride a bicycle… Favorite Book: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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