City Colleges of Chicago students embark on trip to South Africa: 'Reconnect and find your roots'

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Thursday, February 15, 2024
City Colleges of Chicago students embark on trip to South Africa
Students from City Colleges of Chicago, including Malcom X and Harold Washington, embarked on a trip to South Africa Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students from City Colleges of Chicago are about to embark on a trip they'll likely never forget.

A group of more than a dozen students, all Black men, are traveling to South Africa Thursday with a team of Chicago City Colleges leaders.

"I'm positive that they will have a paradigm shifting kind of experience," chaperone Akiza Boddie-Willis said.

It is the first trip of its kind for City Colleges.

"It became really evident that many of our students said they just didn't know who they were and they were having an identity crisis," Malcolm X College President David Sanders said.

Sanders said he hopes the group of young men will return to Chicago with a better understanding of who they are.

"My hope is that they find themselves," Sanders said. "That they really understand the power that they have within themselves, right? And that no matter how anyone looks at you or defines who you are, really the definer of yourself is you."

The trip is especially meaningful for Mario Scott and his son Miles, who is traveling overseas for the first time.

"I feel like it's going to be a good experience for me to learn based on African history and learn a little bit more," Miles said.

The father and son are both students at Malcom X.

"It's the experience of a lifetime," Mario said. "I think families should go, especially when you're trying to reconnect and find your roots."

Others, like Harold Washington College student Brandon Smith, hope to return home from South Africa with an increased appreciation for cultural roots to share with family.

"I look forward to using this information to let my partner know more about my family comes from," Smith said. "Looking forward to telling my daughter about where I came from."

The trip is completely free for the students. It is covered by a $1 million grant secured by Congressman Danny Davis.

"Exposure to different countries, cultures, and realities enriches students' perspectives and fosters a deeper understanding of neighboring and global interconnectedness," a statement from Davis read in part. "We are all citizens of the world."

The group from City Colleges of Chicago will spend over a week in South Africa.

The grant will also pay for additional trips to the African continent later this Spring. There, students will visit Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and more.