South African students tour, participate in panel


A student from the Westville Boys’ High School in South Africa plays table tennis while Harvard-Westlake students watch. Credit: Jenny Li/Chronicle

Jenny Li

Twenty one student visitors from Westville Boys’ High School in Westville, South Africa, played pingpong and said Oct. 4 that Harvard-Westlake’s classes are a lot like their’s except for the close relationships the students seem to have with their teachers.

Westville Boys’ High School is a member of the World Leading School Association, a group co-founded by Harvard-Westlake and comprised of international schools. According to the WLSA’s website, their goal is “to bridge cultural differences, promote further understanding between secondary schools and improve collaboration between leading schools and institutions of higher education around the world.”

Students at Westville Boys’ High School alternate between visiting schools on the east and west coasts each year. They expect to next return to Harvard-Westlake in 2018.

“Any chance for students to experience what it’s like to live and learn in another environment is important,” Director of Kutler Center and Summer Programs Jim Patterson said. “If you grow up in the United States, you have particular educational experiences that can be quite different from what kids experience in other parts of the world. If you only experience your educational system, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like going to school under a different system.”

Patterson moderated a student panel, in which Strauss Cooperstein ’18, Alitzel Villanueva ’17 and Haley Hicks ’17 answered questions and discussed student life and the academic program.

“It was a really cool opportunity to give the visiting South African students a chance to experience our daily life and culture in general,” Cooperstein said. “They were very polite and outgoing and really enjoyed learning about all the unique programs, facilities and educational avenues we have to offer, which we sometimes even take for granted.”

Tour guides then led the students in groups around the campus to experience the environment first-hand.

“This trip was pretty cool,” WBHS student Usanda Mbuldi ’19 said. “I really enjoyed the experience.”