Oakland students dig deep into their own roots to prep for South Africa trip | KALW

Oakland students dig deep into their own roots to prep for South Africa trip

Mar 21, 2018


Next Tuesday, more than thirty students from Oakland will get on a plane for South Africa. Some have never even been on a plane; most are Oakland teens; all but one is African American.

They’re part of a group called Culture Keepers, and they’ll be meeting with a group of South African youth and traveling in the country for two weeks.


To prep, they’ve been delving into their own genealogy, and learning a few Zulu dances, and songs in the Sotho language.


The goal is to give them the travel bug for life, teach them about culture, and help them know themselves.


It's founder Kharyshi Wiginton’s  third year pulling this trip together. She’s one of those educators we don’t hear about often, and she pretty much works 24/7 for Oakland teens. She's been working with her students to fundraise for the voyage — hosting car washes, and selling T-shirts and hoodies. 


Education Reporter Lee Romney introduces us to her and to some of the students who will be heading out on this adventure next week.



“When youth get to travel, not only do they get to understand languages and how you communicate with people who are different than you. [T]hey also get to understand currency and exchange rates and politics and social norms. And they learn how to code-switch and fit in, and they learn mostly about themselves, what makes them tick, what makes them hurt, what makes them happy.”

To listen to more student voices, watch their video.