South African students, director visit Upper School

Scott Nussbaum

Two juniors and the school director from the Tiger Kloof School in South Africa visited classes and spoke with faculty Oct. 8.

The Children Overseas Club, led by co-presidents Kelsey Ogomori ’14 and Divya Siddarth ’14, organized the visit as part of its efforts to form a connection between the two schools.

“It was incredible to talk to them because they offer such a deep perspective,” Siddarth said. “Our lives are just so different, and sometimes living in Los Angeles can put blinders on your world view.”

The visitors observed  Psychology, AP Latin and Studies in Scientific Research classes and met with deans to discuss their visit.

“The connection between students and teachers is so different,” Matshidiso Legalamitlwa said. “The interaction and relationship is clearly very deep at Harvard-Westlake.”

The students’ and school director Mark Boobbyer’s itinerary was designed to give them a complete look at the different departments and extracurricular activities offered at Harvard-Westlake.

“The class difference is nothing like our school,” Thabang Mohumapele said. “At our school, when you are studying science, you only take science classes. When you study math, you only take math classes. The class diversity was the one of the most shocking things.”

The three visitors will also travel to high schools in Connecticut, Washington D.C. and Oregon. While there, they will also visit local colleges.

“The idea is to establish a connection with these schools which may lead to exchange and study abroad opportunities for our students,” Boobbyer said. “Tiger Kloof is such a different school it is almost impossible to compare, but you can always see what works in a school environment and what does not. It is not all about the facilities but the people who attend the school.”

In the past year, the club has sent students to visit Tiger Kloof in Vryburg, South Africa, set up a pen pal program and held numerous fundraisers to raise funds that were donated to Tiger Kloof. The club is currently working to set up a video chat network between the two schools.

“It was very interesting to see the level of independent study expected from students at Harvard-Westlake,” Boobbyer said. “That is definitely something we can take back from this visit.”