St. Joseph’s hit the world stage this summer with two separate international student trips, to South Africa in June and Italy in July/August.
The group visiting South Africa was led by faculty member Leigh Berman, who said of the eighteen travelers who joined her, “Our students had the trip of a lifetime as they opened their hearts and minds to the various people and places we encountered. They were moved by the beauty of the land, the diversity of the people, fauna and flora, and we may even have even eaten (mopane) worms once!”
From visiting Regina Mundi, the largest Roman Catholic Church in SA and a meeting place for those working to overthrow the apartheid regime, to trying their hands at African spear throwing, climbing to the lighthouse at the southernmost point of the African continent, swimming in the Indian Ocean, seeing elephants, lions, buffalo, penguins, warthogs, five different types of antelope and a host of other animals, various exotic flora and fauna including proteas (SA’s national flower), dancing with Zulu dancers, spending a night in a traditional African beehive hut, meeting, talking with, cooking and sharing meals with Zulu, Xhosa and people of Malay descent, learning to introduce themselves in a native language, to spending a day with students at the Inanda Seminary School (the first black, all girls school started by American missionaries in 1853 to help educate young black women in South Africa), they did it all!
For many of our students, although the scenery was beyond breathtaking, the personal experiences and interactions with locals were what will tie them to Africa for life. The visit to the Inanda Seminary, along with a tour of an African township called Kliptown in Soweto (near Johannesburg) were the most profound part of the trip. We met well educated people who were living in conditions none of us could imagine – no running water, no electricity and double digit numbers of people living in incredibly small spaces (Kliptown). Our students were struck by the community they saw and that the children seemed happy. At Inanda Seminary School, two of our students were paired with two of the girls and attended several classes together. We also ate lunch with the students. Our kids did not want to leave and would happily have stayed on for the rest of our time there. We were all deeply moved by the limited conditions in which the girls live and work – and achieve excellent results. The girls do their own laundry (by hand) and iron their beautifully crisp uniforms on shelves since there are no ironing boards. They stay four to a “room” (open plan with 23 other girls in the dorm) and do all their own cleaning upkeep. The assistant principal, a teacher and our bus driver all commented on the love way our students showed to the Inanda girls, how happy the Inanda students were and how the love that our students brought them would sustain them in challenging, lonely times. (The girls can go home only once a term and get homesick, etc.). I was struck during the school visit as I was many other times during our travels at how generous, kind and tender-hearted our students are. While we may not always see this side of our students at school, to a person, they were fully engaged, interested in everything around them, and they thoroughly embodied the mission of the school. Truly, their minds, hearts, and souls reflected Christ in their interactions with the South African world.
On the trip were:
Catalina and Brad Lindstrom