For the past several months, the 8th grade class of the Ron Clark Academy held numerous fundraisers in support of their impending journey to Johannesburg, South Africa. The purpose of the yearly trip is to inspire the current 8th grade class to put forth a valiant effort towards raising funds intended to benefit several schools and orphanages in the South African township known as Soweto.
To pre-expose themselves to the culture of the popular country, students were challenged to learn about the different elements of South Africa in all of their courses. In language arts, students read texts such as Things Fall Apart, a novel focusing on pre- and post-colonial life in late nineteenth century Nigeria. From this reading, students were educated about the customs of the African people as well as the trials and tribulations tribal leaders faced in their neighborhoods when being introduced to outside influence such as British colonialism and Christian missionaries. In science, students learned about the different levels of terrain as well as the various animals and ecosystems typically seen in the African land. Mathematically, students learned about international conversion rates while also being introduced to the different periods of conflict and progress the South African government endured in current events.
Upon arriving to South Africa, students and staff spent a week visiting approximately twelve schools in Soweto. Once there, they presented portions of the proceeds from their fundraising efforts to each school. At each institution, RCA students were welcomed with South African greetings including songs, hymns, and dances customary to the native land. After the welcome from local students, RCA students also shared dances, steps, and songs to make the cultural exchange. Aside from the focus on education, the Academy also used its proceeds to buy essential goods for two local orphanages serving youth who were abandoned for reasons such as illness or economic instability. To aid in the significance of the trip, each night students and staff convened and spent an hour sharing their favorite moments and reflections in order to internalize the happenings for the day. Overall, the Class of 2017 raised $15,000, the largest amount of any 8th grade class, to bestow to school administrators and orphanage managers.