McClymonds H.S. students expect to be humbled during South Africa trip

For two dozens students from McClymonds High School in Oakland, spring break means going on a trip. but not for fun. It's a journey to learn about a world beyond what's familiar and comfortable.

The students and their mentors left for South Africa Tuesday night from SFO.

Organizers say the trip is designed to teach students how to learn outside the classroom to be global citizens.

"If you've never been out of the Bay or even the state of California, you can't be an active participant in the world," project coordinator Kharyshi Wiginton tells the students at the high school as they gathered in a circle during their send-off rally.

"I look forward to finding myself. I tend to get angry at a lot of things. I have a lot, but sometimes I feel like I don't," says J'Qwayne Taylor, a 17-year-old junior.
Many of the students come from single parent homes and face financial struggles.
"Dad's in prison, been in prison all my life since I was a little boy. I don't think he's ever getting out," says Jh'mir Denard, an 18-year-old senior.
The students say this trip to South Africa is a journey about self discovery and seeing others who survive on less.
Organizers shared with KTVU video taken from the trip last year. Students in South Africa sang to a group of McClymonds students.

Organizers say this is not a leisure trip, but a necessity a transformative experience.

The students will travel to cities, townships and rural areas, meeting peers visiting government and historic sites.

"Travel has the ability to teach you things, so many lessons at once that would take you years and years and much more experiences that you have in one opportunity," says Wiginton, who founded the project.

Even before embarking on this trip, there were lessons learned about packing and getting the necessary documents required for international travel.

"It definitely opened up my eyes," says Kierra Cotton, an 18-year-old college student who went to South Africa last year as a senior at McClymonds. She's returning as a mentor.

"I learned a lot about myself, about my history. I came back way more wiser," says Cotton. .
As for Jh'Mir Denard, he says' he's grown up fast helping his single mother raise two younger brothers, this trip is a rite of passage.

"I'm trying to get my childhood before the real world hits me. And everybody tells me it's going to slap me in the face. I'm just trying to get prepared, get all my childishness out so when it does hit me, I'll be ready for it," says Jh'Mir.

The trip is scheduled to last two weeks.

Organizers say the trip is paid for through fundraising. The students say they best part is that the memories will last them a lifetime.

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