Alumna Ana Lewis ‘2018 – South Africa
Each One, Teach One: Lessons Learned from the Journey to South Africa
During my time at Bennett, I was afforded many opportunities. One was traveling abroad to South Africa with some of my Bennett sisters and our college president, Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins back in 2017. I was able to go on this international excursion by applying for the leadership program which included an all-expenses paid trip to learn about the cultures of South Africa. The College had received the Melon Grant to provide students with international travel experience and leadership development. The application was competitive, but I’m so glad I applied! This was an unforgettable experience! From the food, to the culture, there was always something to do and never a dull moment the entire trip. These monumental moments gave me a new appreciation for not only African history, but also the African diaspora.
Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was going to Robben Island. Robben Island is the island just off the coast of Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for his involvement in the anti-apartheid revolution. While there, we were able to see that living conditions of the prison and Nelson Mandela’s cell. During our time on the island, one of Mandela’s saying was frequently discussed. “Each one, teach one.” This quote was important to me because it reminds me of how important it is for the present generation to learn as much as we can to teach future generations. We can all learn from past mistakes and do better. I apply this concept to my life whenever I can.
Another surprising part of the trip was visiting the shanty towns. The shanty towns were towns made of metal shacks, where some poor South Africans lived. One memorable part of the visit was seeing the women of the village run a textile shop, where they made purses, aprons, and other items from t-shirt fabric. We also visited a local grammar school, and the children performed a song for us. It was a humbling experience that I shared with my Bennett sisters. Moments like these brought us all closer together.
I believe global journeys are so important which is why I am so grateful for the Center for Global Studies in providing me with this opportunity. This experience could not have come into fruition if I did not open up my email in fall 2016, see a message from the Center for Global Studies about the Melon Grant and decided to take a chance and apply. Then early in spring of 2017, I received an email congratulating me on my application acceptance. Throughout the semester, the Center for Global Studies helped me apply for a passport scholarship. They also gave me a journal and an international phone charger to help document my experience.
Because of this trip, I’m able to see the world in a different light. It taught me more about sisterhood, South African culture, and living in the moment. I would encourage all Bennett Belles to take advantage of international journeys offered by the College and go out and see the world. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shaped the woman I am today. Now I am inspired to continue traveling and see what the world has to offer.