Give 15 ambitious, energetic South African students 4 days in New York City, and the result, year after year, is a sleepless ambassadorial adventure narrated by diplomatic discussions by day, punctuated by Broadway lights and $1 pizza by night.
The Class of 2012 flexed their diplomatic muscles at visits to the United Nations, the New York Stock Exchange, New York City Department of Education and the South African Consulate, and still managed to stretch their cultural lenses with independent explorations of the city’s museums, theatres, parks, department stores and falafel carts.
Thanks to the continued support of the South African Consulate and Standard Bank New York, SAWIP hosted a networking session with esteemed guests from business, civil society and government. Members of the SA Office of the Consulate General, ELMA Philanthropies, Alston & Bird LLC, Standard Bank NY and Standard Chartered Bank engaged with students over a traditional South African meal catered by Brooklyn restaurant, Madiba’s.
The power of the personal narrative is a core component of SAWIP’s mission to promote youth-driven post-conflict peace and reconciliation; but in New York City the power of the diplomatic narrative is explored and debated as students learned of South Africa’s roles and responsibilities on both global financial and global governance arenas. A discussion panel with Dr. Dire Tladi, Dr. Jonge Klaas and Mr. Jeremiah Murongwana from the SA Mission to the UN provided such an opportunity for the students to learn more about South Africa’s role in international law and politics.
SAWIP prides itself on its students’ ability to withstand the intellectual, physical and emotional intensity of a program that challenges its students to think, debate and act with the flair of future leaders at all times. The New York City leg of the program magnifies this intensity, so much so that wide-eyed sleeplessness is the standard face of SAWIP.
In four days, New York City offered this year’s class an exhausting, but empowering, cultural exposure. It’s safe to say that every SAWIP student is now an expert at dodging aggressive yellow cab-drivers.