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Douglass Global Fellow Writes Of Experiences in South Africa

NEW ORLEANS--I had my first taste of global cultural learning in 2015 when I traveled to Qatar at the age of 14 for a week-long Arabic debate competition.

Two years earlier, in seventh grade, I had started taking Arabic classes at the Lindbolm Math & Science Academy, a selective high school serving gifted and marginalized students in Chicago.

Until I became a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow and studied in South Africa last summer, the Qatar trip had been my most extensive abroad experience. But what transpired during the summer of 2018 in South Africa, made me realize that was only the beginning of my personal development.

When I started at Lindbolm Academy as a seventh grader, I experienced a challenging environment, something more dynamic than anything I had experienced before. I relished in the opportunity to engage with a new culture through my Arabic language and dance courses because it provided an outlet for some of my feelings of displacement.

I felt lost and uncomfortable in my new environment. I was forced to push the boundaries to which I had grown accustomed, and at times, I struggled with the changes.

I often wondered: How did I get here? How did I become so privileged to be in a space with people so brilliant? I was surrounded by individuals, who were intelligent and inquisitive, and I never thought of myself on that level. This began my quest to understand my worth.

My quest continued when I applied to be a Douglass fellow as a college student at Xavier University.

I was in complete disbelief when I was accepted for a study abroad to South Africa. I knew the program was prestigious and competitive, and I had a lot of self-doubt about my own abilities and sense of belonging.

Throughout my time in South Africa, however, I came face-to-face with the power of my excellence--and the power of what I could achieve.

I never imagined myself hiking, never even gave it any thought. ..To read more, subscribe to the blackchronicle newspaper