Recently, the SAWIP team visited the World Affairs Council (WAC) in Washington DC to participate in an interactive session with youth from around the metropolitan area. This session formed part of the broader program of community engagement and was part of a celebration of Mandela Day. This was an opportunity to widen the perspective of the students, introducing them to South Africa and some the challenges it faces and to give a global context.
The attendees of the session were from local high schools and were very excited to meet the team. It presented them with the unique opportunity to interact with young leaders from very different contexts to their own. The SAWIP team discussed three broad topics during this engagement; generations of activism and the rise of student involvement, social entrepreneurship in South Africa and the interconnectedness of racial and cultural identities in South Africa. This was done in a series of small group discussions, where the students got the opportunity to critically discuss and present their views on each of these topics in an intimate setting.
The students showed great interest in the topics and there was great enthusiasm from the team and the students. There was particular interest in the session about social entrepreneurship, where the students were presented with a real life South African problem that they had to find a solution to in a 20-minute time span. It was truly inspiring to see the zeal with which the students tackled these problems and made prototypes of their solutions.
Not only did the high school students gain immensely from this interaction, the SAWIP team gained valuable insights into the current issues facing the USA. It provided an important opportunity for the team and students to discuss the role that youth play in their societies.
Servant leadership is a central part of the SAWIP program, this was a great opportunity to give back to communities around Washington DC in a valuable and tangible way. The SAWIP team looks forward to continue this legacy of service once they return to South Africa.