By Alicia Cook
On July 11, 2018, two Bloomfield College seniors, Armani Figueroa-Richardson and Andrea Montes, will travel to Grahamstown, South Africa to work with Inkululeko learners and leadership. They are the first students from Bloomfield College to join Inkululeko in South Africa. The trip is a collaboration between Bloomfield College, Inkululeko, and Global Youth Connect.
Guiding them on this 12-day journey abroad is Jason Torreano, founder and Executive Director of Inkululeko. While an undergraduate student at SUNY Brockport, majoring in journalism, Torreano traveled to South Africa and fell in love with the country. After researching a unique need in South Africa, in 2011, he founded Inkululeko, an organization that serves motivated South African township youth with finishing high school and moving onto university. In his role at Inkululeko, he developed mutually beneficial collaborations with entities around the world, including U.S. colleges and universities.
Today, Inkululeko is a dynamic non-profit organization that continues to serve motivated students in Grahamstown, South Africa all while providing college students the opportunity to work alongside Inkululeko.
“I always tell students that the person who steps off the plane is not the same person who returns. This trip profoundly changes people,” said Torreano. “Bloomfield College students, in particular, will be able to draw direct parallels between their lives in New Jersey and the lives of those 8,000 miles away,” said Torreano.
During their time in South Africa, Figueroa-Richardson, a broadcast journalism major, and Montes, a nursing student, will visit different NGOs and speak to NGO leaders about the opportunities and challenges present in the small Eastern Cape community; learn isiXhosa, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages; tour Grahamstown with local residents where they’ll meet local entrepreneurs, local athletes, and local musicians; and engage in discussions around education and equity, and how each play a role in post-apartheid South Africa.
“During this trip to South Africa, I hope to gain educational growth and personal growth. I feel as though coming back from South Africa, being able to somewhat live another person’s reality for just a short amount of time will teach me a lot,” expressed Figueroa-Richardson. “Going on this trip will teach me things about others, but also myself as well. I know for sure, this trip will make me a better person.”
Figueroa-Richardson plans to put her writing, interviewing, filming, and editing skills to the test by profiling two South African students while abroad.
“I hope that I learn more about South Africa’s culture and their people. Learning about other cultures is important to become a culturally competent nurse,” stated Montes. “I hope I am able to inspire others to learn more about health and education. Last but not least, as I step out of my comfort zone, I hope I learn more about myself during this trip so that I can grow as a person.”
This trip was made possible by the generous giving of Bloomfield College donors, Mary and Brad Delamielleure. Follow this journey on the official blog, or on social media platforms using #BCinSouthAfrica.