August 20, 2008

Journey for Change Notebook: August 19, 2008

Posted: 04:10 PM ET
Editor’s Note: Thirty kids, ages 12 to 16, from Bushwick, Brooklyn, were chosen to participate in “Journey for Change,” a youth empowerment program created by Malaak Compton-Rock. We’ve asked them to share their experiences by blogging about the changes they expect to bring about in others and hope to see in themselves. The group returned to the U.S. on August 13th.
 Queen Clyde, 12, proposing the idea of a bake sale to her Journey for Change friends.
Queen Clyde, 12, proposing the idea of a bake sale to her Journey for Change friends.

 When we got back from South Africa I was so excited. We landed in Dulles Airport in Virginia on the 13th of August.  It was a long ride up back to New York, N.Y.  When we actually got to New York we had a meeting at the Bushwick Salvation Army. The meeting was mainly about how we're going to continue this journey in America.  

So there's a shack that burned down in Diepsloot. Malaak wants to rebuild it before the woman who lives there comes out of the hospital. She has burns from her neck down and won't be coming home for a while.  So to support her I'm having a bake sale. Its going to be on the 23 of August. All the money we raise will go towards rebuilding the shack.

-Queen Clyde, 12

   The hotel we slept in the last night we were in South Africa was absolutely beautiful. Sharing a room with Zulianna was interesting. I can’t believe how fast the trip went by. Everyday was full with visiting houses, schools, and families. I loved being with the kids. It was interesting learning about other kids my age from a different culture. I loved the gumboot dancing. It kind of made me understand where stepping came from.

 -Dasia Carr, 12

  My experience in Africa was wonderful. The saddest part of leaving Africa was the farewell to Soweto. I was happy that I made a difference in the lives of families but I didn’t want to leave them.  It was so nice when we went shopping for them; I just felt so good picking up things for them.

 This trip has made me a better person. Now I am more grateful for what I have and I learned to appreciate all the things that my parents do for me. When I hugged the granny from the house visits she was full of joy. The kids were playing and running around with stickers.  I was watching them and saying, ‘WOW I never knew it takes so little to make someone happy.’ I am going to continue to make a difference in people’s lives because I feel that it is the right thing to do.

 Leaving Zama and Cornelius (the South Africans who helped to organize the trip) was also sad. They helped us all the time. We should reward them because they are so amazing.  Also Malaak, she is so beautiful and caring. If it wasn’t for her none of us would be here and the trip wouldn’t have even started.

-Jenee Lawson, 14

 “Wow” is all I can say about this journey of a life time. The two weeks are finally over and I’m back to reality. I have to say South Africa is way different than America. It took me awhile to get used to the American ways. The sleeping time –for some reason I’m getting tired at about five o-clock eastern time. The Rand- when I write the money symbol I end up writing the “R” symbol. I admit it will take me about four days to get my head straightened. So the plane ride was shorter coming back. I was less worried than before. Most of us sat in the same row, row seventy three. I guess it was shorter for me because I was sleeping and I was listening to Shawn’s mouth and Jonathan’s mouth the whole time. On the plane I reflected on my time in South Africa I and tried to think about what I can do now that I’m a Global Ambassador. I feel really important calling my self a Global Ambassador, and when I say it I feel full of confidence.    

Now I’m in America home of the ‘Free and the Brave,’ ready to fulfill my Global Ambassador Contract, and ready for all the obstacles life throws at me.

Post Script. I really miss my mentor and can’t wait to see her soon and also everyone else.

 -Sydney Smart, 12


 Sydney Smart, 12, addresses her Journey for Change friends at a meeting in Brooklyn on August 14.
Sydney Smart, 12, addresses her Journey for Change friends at a meeting in Brooklyn on August 14.

 Right now I miss being back in Africa.  I feel sad because I left all the kids there.  I really want to go back.  I wish we could have stayed a little longer.  I’m happy to be with my family but I feel like I left another family in Africa because I got so connected to them.  I’m excited about the Global Ambassador program because there are a lot more ways I want to serve in the community and globally.  I would like to have a clothing drive, and raise money for kids who don’t have a home.  There are a lot of ways I’d like to make a difference.  Being in Africa changed me a lot.  I feel like I wasn’t grateful for what I had.  It really changed me.

 -Zuliana Burnett, 13


 Ever since I got home, my friends and I miss the fun and want to go back to Africa. Unfortunately we spent only two weeks in Africa.  I really enjoyed the time we spent with the families we visited and the kids in the orphanage.  It was fun experiencing how the culture is and how the school system is compared to what we have here where we live.  Before we left Africa, we had farewell ceremonies in Diepsloot and Soweto .  It was hard to say goodbye because we will miss everyone we visited.  We have drawn close to them and showed them a lot of love. They showed us love as well. 

I’m happy to be a Global Ambassador so I can show everyone else my experience and maybe one day they will be able to experience what I have.  I’m excited.  I’m looking forward to speaking in public even though my nerves get to me.

 -Latoya Massie, 14

Filed under: Journey for Change • Soledad OBrien

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Joshua Hall, 14   August 21st, 2008 1:50 am ET

I am happy to be back home but I am sad that I left behind so many people that still need help. The trip to South Africa was an experience that I am glad I was a part of and will never forget. We did so much and saw so much in the two weeks that we were there that its hard to believe at times. But the pictures taken remind me that I was actually there. As a global ambassador I have an opportunity to effect the most change and I believe that events that give us a chance to let our voices be heard will do just that. How about adopting a school or a village? We adopt children, why not a school we can work to improve the conditions in the schools (one school at a time)

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