While most students were lounging by the pool or relaxing at the beach this summer, Carrboro’s Paw La La had a unique opportunity to travel to South Africa.
La heard about this opportunity, which was through an NGO called Global Citizen, from Social Studies teacher Matt Cone. La applied last year and was admitted into the program, making her one of six accepted and the only high school student.
La’s first stop of her trip was to the Global CItizen headquarters in New York City. Global Citizen’s mission is to eliminate poverty by the year 2030, and they hope to inspire the younger generation, like La, to join Global Citizen’s mission.
“I really enjoyed [Global Citizen’s headquarters] because I was surrounded by people who are working to do something better in the world, to improve the world,” said La.
During her ten days in South Africa La attended numerous business meetings, where she learned about different organizations such as Embrace Dignity, Umbiyozo, Unjani Health and Kliptown Youth Program.
Seeing that the townships and schools that weren’t integrated, greatly impacted La. She also opened up about her life and how she felt a strong connection to a slum called Kliptown.
“Once I entered Kliptown, I felt like I knew Kliptown. I was born in a refugee camp and everything from that town felt so familiar,” said La.
One of the hardest things for her was to see the children in the slums.
“The children were so happy, but when you look at the statistics, you see where they are going to end up. They aren’t going to go to school and the cycle will continue,” La said.
Now that La is back in the United States, she has big plans for Carrboro High School. This year she is starting a club called Global Community Club that aims to create “young leaders who are informed about the world” and global citizens. She recognizes the diversity in the school but thinks that the student body is not connected enough.
La was once new to the United States and knows what it is like to walk around the school and speak barely any English. She also says that the Karen community has New Year ceremonies and would like to invite all students to join in and engage in a different culture. She hopes to have events like breakfast with new students to create a more inclusive community.
Photo courtesy CHCCS