New York and South African learners go back to their origins

  • June 05, 2009

Maropeng’s underground boat ride was a highlight for a number of learners visiting Johannesburg this week as guests of 46664, Nelson Mandela’s HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.

These learners, who were carefully selected through competitions in the United States and South Africa, were bought together to learn about Mr Mandela’s leadership legacy. They even had the opportunity to meet Mr Mandela earlier in the week.

The trip to Maropeng was aimed at helping learners carefully consider this life and our common humanity, and to draw up a charter expressing their values and vision for a better world.

Eastern Cape-born Zintle Mdloyi was among these students. For her, coming to Johannesburg and interacting with learners from New York seemed like a distant dream.

At home in the village of Bathurst, situated between Grahamstown and Port Alfred, she took a chance and wrote a poem about Mr Mandela. She was one of the winners who were called to Johannesburg, where she met Mr Mandela and the American learners.

Zintle said she had learnt a lot from the experience of visiting Maropeng.

“I was a bit nervous when we went underground but after the ride I felt excited. Maropeng really has a lot to offer. I wish more kids from the Eastern Cape could visit this place.”

At Maropeng, learners enjoyed an adventure-filled day which took in the story of human evolution, the elements shaping the earth, the characteristics of a human being, fossil insects, and, of course, lunch. They then went into the conference room to work on their charter.

New York student Rabin Ahmed especially enjoyed riding the boat through time.

“I learnt a lot from the exhibition. I didn’t even know that the oldest hominid fossil was found in Africa and now I know. There is a lot of history here,” she said.

For South African student Arno Botha, the most important parts of the tour to Maropeng were the insect exhibition and the boat ride.

Thirteen-year-old Aron Augustitus said the underground boat ride and the vortex – a bridge between past and present – were the highlights of his trip.

The students’ four-day get-together included a tour of Soweto and the Apartheid Museum, a debate about Mr Mandela’s life and legacy, drafting the student charter at Maropeng, and a tour of Alexandra township and the 46664 bangle factory.

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