If I asked any of my teenager friends if they wanted to attend an extra 20 to 25 hours of school a week, I would most certainly be given an expression of disgust. The thought of more work on top of schoolwork and daily life sounds horrible to students across our Valley. And yet, across the world in South Africa, students are finishing their schoolwork and duties at home, then attending academic and leadership training every week.
Nkomazi, South Africa, would not appear to be much of a town to Americans — more like a collection of houses along dirt roads. Its residents face poverty and struggle to overturn a high illiteracy rate. Luxuries that many people living in the United States take for granted are much harder to achieve in this place.
But among all this adversity, the young people of that South African city are beginning to realize the power they hold and the potential they have. The Imagine Scholar program gives these young people a chance to change the reality they have faced their whole lives.
Founded by an American named Corey Johnson, Imagine Scholar strives to push young students to learn leadership skills and the importance of community involvement. For 20 to 25 hours every week, students in the program attend training and classes that teach the importance of creating a culture of success and academic curiosity, exploring their interests, and pushing to learn more every day. The program focuses on empowering students and encouraging them to realize that they have the power to create a world that they wish to see.
The students of Imagine Scholar are slated to be the next generation’s leaders. Graduates of the program have attended the Yale Young Global Scholar Programs and Johannesburg’s competitive African Leadership Academy, which accepts only 125 students throughout Africa yearly.
And how does a program in South Africa have anything to do with Yakima?
The Yakima Rotary Clubs have sponsored students in the program, and this year they are holding a fundraiser supporting Imagine Scholar and its mission of improving the world through the youth. The fundraiser will take place on Aug. 22 at Cowiche Creek Brewing Co., 514 Thompson Road in Cowiche. Admission is $25 per person or $50 per family, and includes a refreshment, two slices of pizza from HopTown Wood-Fired Pizza, and dessert. A student from South Africa will speak about the Imagine Scholar program.
RSVPs must be sent by Aug. 19 to email@example.com.
The Rotary’s Aug. 22 event offers a way we can use our power to help change the world for others, no matter how insignificant our contribution may seem.