Jordan, Wheatley Students Cultivate ‘Friendships Beyond Borders’

HISD students pose in front of a statue of former South African President Paul Kruger in Pretoria, South Africa.

Almost a dozen students from HISD’s Jordan and Wheatley high schools forged new relationships with their contemporaries from around the globe last month when they traveled overseas as part of a program designed to cultivate “friendships across borders.”

The students briefly visited the Netherlands before heading to South Africa through the International Youth Friendship & Development Program, whose mission is to connect young people with their peers from other countries to build mutual respect and understanding, with the ultimate goal of someday achieving world peace.

“It is amazing to see these young people learning from real world experiences,” said Jordan High School Principal Andria Schur. “The people behind the organization are equally amazing, with their heart and soul in lifting up our young people and their passion for global peace.”

One of Schur’s students, Abdi Abdi, said that trip opened his eyes to the wonders of traveling, and made him determined to do more of it. “The world has many beautiful secrets,” said the Jordan High School senior, “but it requires you to move around in order to reveal them.”

Jordan HS student Abdi Abdi (seated; third from L) poses with his group in front of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Abdi said the highlight of his trip was hiking to the top of Table Mountain, a high plateau in Cape Town, South Africa, considered to boast one of the most impressive views on the continent. “We ran all the way up to the top, and it was so fun to be up there,” said Abdi. “It was very beautiful. That, to me, was exciting.”

Originally from Kenya, Abdi moved to the United States when he was eight years old, but he hadn’t had an opportunity to return to Africa until recently. Still, he has already made some meaningful connections with a few of the students he met while visiting South Africa, and he plans to keep in touch. “Some of them are already e-mailing me,” he said.