The Global Leading Light Initiatives (GLLI) organisation hosted a send-off event for the Ndlambe teens who are part of the One Team, Two Continents (1T2C) Ambassador Program at the Titi Jonas complex in Port Alfred on Saturday, March 4.
GLOBAL ADVENTURE: The excited group of the One Team, Two Continents Ambassador Program participants; Peter Du Plessis, Sinesipho Nikita Pondo, Litha Qokose, Axole Tokota, Phelokazi Fani, Asemahle Nobebe, Loyiso Lubelwana, Yandisiwe Richards, Zanele Poyoyo and Onwabe Dili are jetting off to a week-long robotics adventure where they will compete in a global design contest in Chicago, US. Picture: FAITH QINGA
The group took off on an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago, US to embark on a week-long robotics adventure. The send-off of the ten participants was live-aired by local radio station, Ndlambe FM.
The One Team, Two Continents Ambassador Program is a collaborative project between Global Leading Light Initiatives, Agape Weks, the Chicago Knights Robotics Team, and Goldin Institute in partnership with the US Embassy in South Africa. The program teaches young people from Port Alfred and Chicago how to use the values of pluralism and social inclusion to find robotics-based solutions to problems in the real world. The 1T2C Ambassador program enables the participants from the two countries to travel and experience each other’s culture first hand.
The Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in South Africa, Stacy Barrios says the cross-cultural immersion brought by the 1T2C Ambassador program is a great example of collaboration efforts between the United States and South Africa.
“This exchange program was created by South African and American educators funded by a grant from the US Mission to South Africa to expose students to robotics and inclusivity. We wish the teens from Port Alfred best luck as they travel to Chicago to compete in FIRST® Robotics Competition’s “Charged Up” design challenge along with their American teammates on the Chicago Knights Robotics Team,” she said.
The send-off follows after Chicago ambassadors visited Port Alfred in October 2022 for a week-long cross-cultural immersion. The immersion took place at GLLI’s offices at Stenden SOuth Africa in the first week of October last year. During their visit, the 1T2C participants engaged in activities designed to foster cultural understanding and strengthen their skills in the field of robotics.
This second leg of the cross-cultural exchange will see the teens from Port Alfred spend a week in Chicago working together with their American peers to compete in a global design contest, Charged Up, organised by FIRST Robotics. The South African ambassadors will be teamed up with their American peers on the Chicago Knights Robotics Team.
Parents, school teachers and politicians attended the send-off to wish the Port Alfred ambassadors well. Educator, Ms Pholela Jonas from Nomzamo Secondary School wished the teens well for their journey. “As the schools that are represented by these learners, we are very grateful for the opportunity that has been granted to our learners and we are hoping that this opportunity will also be a game changer for other learners.
“As you learn new things in Chicago, we are hoping that you will transfer what you’ve learnt to the other learners as well when you come back. We are very proud of you guys. You’ve been given an opportunity that even we as teachers have never received so we’re wishing you all the best. Travel safe and may God’s mercies be with you and we love you,” she said.
Kuyasa Combined School’s grade 11 learner, Litha Qokose, who is one of the ten ambassadors, performed an acapella version of Nomfundo Moh’s Soft Life. The chorus “Qo, nqo, nqo, nqo, nqo, sivulele Ningas’valeli ngaphandle Nathi s’fun’ ukphil’ i-soft life” was a fitting rendition to the opportunity the teens have been afforded by GLLI as the chorus echoes the theme of doors opening to better opportunities.
The program of the send-off was centred on the ambassadors and they each took to the podium to share how the robotics experience has been for them and what their expectations were for the trip. Although the participants shared how loadshedding posed a challenge in their participation as the program is coordinated online through zoom meetings, they said they were grateful to Nemato Change A Life for supporting them throughout. They all expressed excitement for the trip and said they look forward to reconnecting with their Chicago peers to create a robotic prototype that wins the FIRST® Robotics Competition.
Bringing technology to the community
“Technology is changing rapidly and as GLLI the least we can do is to help young people adapt to the changes brought by technology. Our aim is to make sure that we equip them with these skills,” said GLLI’s founder, Dieudonné Allo.
Allo said technology and entrepreneurship are two ways in which the organisation supports communities to be part of the tech economy and this short journey will be a life-changing adventure for the ambassadors. “GLLI is really interested in helping communities to be part of the tech economy. Technology is evolving and so we have to find ways to adapt and this is a life-changing opportunity for the ten young people from Port Alfred. It’s a short journey, but it’s really a life-changing journey for them,” he said.