South Africa: Meet the Team

Team South Africa is excited to embark on our journey in a few short hours! We hope that you will stay updated with our blog throughout the next two weeks, where we’ll share lots of interesting experiences and learning moments. To start, here’s a little information about each of the wonderful members of our team:

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Adults

Mrs. Strobel

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The adult team leader, Mrs. Strobel is leading the trip for the sixth time this year. Mrs. Strobel is from Culver and she has been involved in LCA for 15 years (almost from the beginning) and is amazed watching how our students continue to embrace the experience and build the relationship we have with Christel House South Africa (CHSA). Our team shares some CGA Leadership Workshops with the Christel House student leaders and she loves to see our students rise to the challenge and embrace the experience as student leaders and global learners. She is excited for the team and future funny moments and is a little nervous about surprises. Mrs. Strobel loves to travel and considers Cape Town one of the most beautiful places she has ever seen. Her goals for the trip are first and foremost to have a safe trip, and then to embraceubuntu—”I am, because you are.”

Mrs. Beeson

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Mrs. Beeson is a counselor at Culver. She grew up in Petion-Ville, Haiti but currently lives in Culver. She chose this trip as she has always been fascinated by the modern history of South Africa. She says, “I remember learning about apartheid as a child (when it was still in force) and celebrating when Mandela was elected president. There are many parallels between the social dynamics in Haiti, and I am excited to be able to learn lessons from South Africa that could be helpful in my own country.” She is most excited about meeting the students and staff at Christel House & visiting locations related to Mandela/Apartheid (Robben Island, Apartheid Museum, Soweto, etc) and is most nervous about jetlag when we come back to Culver. A fun fact is that she hasn’t been out of the country since 2000. Mrs. Beeson’s goal is to help our team have a safe, fun, and enlightening trip together.

Dr. Buggeln

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Dr. Buggeln (or Dr. B) is a humanities teacher at Culver and is from Valparaiso, Indiana. He chose this trip because he has wanted to go to South Africa since his research project on Anti-Apartheid leaders in 1985. He is most excited about being in historic places he has been reading about for years and most nervous about being healthy and safe. A fun fact is that Dr. B’s daughter, Hannah, CGA ‘14 was co-President of LCA, and he is grateful to be one of the few “honorary members” of LCA. A goal is to support the team, Mrs. Strobel, Ethan, and LCA’s good work as well as travel.

Mama Dee

Mama Dee is the Tower RD and she is from Cleveland, Ohio. She chose the trip because she loves Mrs. Strobel and wants to go to a new country and loves meeting new people and helping the kids, but she is nervous about how much we will be travelling. A fun fact is that she loves school! A goal is to learn more about South Africa.

Mrs. Hansen

Having gone on the trip already, Mrs. Hansen, who is from Culver, said that “The experience watching our students work with Christel House was amazing when on the trip in 2016.” She is excited about working together to help others and learn about the culture and people of South Africa, and she loves working with kids and serving others. A goal is to keep everything calm and positive.

Seniors

Ali Kwiecien

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Ali is a senior in Linden dorm from Naperville, Illinois. She chose the trip as she believes that “South Africa Trip offers a little bit of everything: meaningful service, opportunities for leadership, a cultural experience and adventure! Everyone who has been on the SA trips also speak of it so highly and I hope that it is just as life-changing for me as it was for them.” She is excited about leading the Team Building workshops at Christel House and learning about the students’ strengths and stories. She is also excited to deliver the South Africa Drive donations that have been collected over the past few months as part of the South Africa drive she organized, and something she is nervous about is the 12 hour plane ride. A fun fact is that Ali am fluent in Polish and has traveled to 4 out of 7 continents (North America, Europe, South America, and Asia). Her goal is to unplug, be present, and reflect.

Ellie Tice

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Ellie is a senior in Atrium from Kokomo, Indiana. She chose South Africa so that she could learn about another culture and group of people while helping serve and lead among a group of peers. She is most excited about meeting all of the kids at Christel House and getting to play games with them during our team building exercises, and most nervous about jetlag when we come back to school. A fun fact is that she is in the process of getting her pilot’s license, and her goal is to learn something new about someone every day.

Erin Postma

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Erin is a senior in Benson from Crown Point, Indiana. Erin has been very active in LCA over the past four years and is interested to learn more about the culture and history of South Africa by going there. She also hopes to learn more about the relationship Culver has with Christel House and help make that relationship stronger. Erin is most excited to walk down the street in Soweto where the protests took place, noting that “I think it will be a very powerful experience,” and she is most nervous about the flight. A fun fact is that she still has a baby tooth. Erin hopes to have an open mind and learn as much as possible.

Ethan Tinsley

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Ethan is a senior in Band from New Bremen, Ohio and he is the first CMA student to join the South Africa trip. He chose the trip to be enriched in servant leadership and to embrace a culture that is different from his own. He is excited to run workshops and see elephants and is most nervous about the flight. He hopes to make new friends and take many pictures, and one fun fact is that he was born in Japan.

Janelle Li

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Janelle is a senior in Atrium from Saratoga, California but grew up in Shanghai. She chose the trip because of her involvement in LCA and interest in issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. She hopes to help continue the LCA partnership with Christel House and interact with the students there and is excited to learn, meet new people, and see animals. She also wants to learn more, firsthand, about how South African history has informed contemporary South Africa. She is nervous about jetlag after we come back to school and hopes to help run the blog effectively and ask everyone to contribute. A fun fact: she held the Olympic torch in 2008 before the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Sydney Herczeg

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Sydney is a senior in Harbor from South Bend, Indiana. She is excited to work with the students of Christel House. She said, “working with LCA over the last couple of years, Christel House is always mentioned when talking about fundraising or as one of the main organizations that LCA supports. By hearing the name so often, I became very interested in going to South Africa to help continue the amazing relationship that LCA has with Christel House.” She is also interested in traveling to another country and experiencing a new culture; it will be an educational opportunity to see what their day to day lives are like. She is most excited about working with the students are Christel House, experiencing a new culture, and potentially trying new food, and most nervous about being in an unknown place as it could definitely be a sensory overload. Her main goal is that the workshops that we have with the students are meaningful and fun. A fun fact is that she went zip lining over the St. Joseph River.

Juniors

Abby Beck

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Abby is a junior in Court from South Bend, Indiana. She says that she has wanted to go on a mission trip for as long as she can remember, and this interest and her interest in Africa promoted an interest in LCA. She said, “During the meetings and talking to Mrs. Strobel, I developed a love for Africa and the culture that I want to explore even further. I really want to make a difference in the world, and what better place to start than a place that truly intrigues and inspires me?” Abby is looking forward to learning a new culture in a way that never would have gotten without Culver. She wants to bond with everyone on the trip, go on a REAL African safari, and share the leadership she has learned during my time at Culver with others around the world. She is most nervous about the flight, and a goal is to make at least two new friends and embrace South African culture. An interesting fact is that she has alpacas.

Cady Clark

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Cady is a junior in Harbor from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is fourth generation at Culver. She has never been out of the country and wanted her first time leaving the US to be on a service-oriented trip, and in South Africa she hopes to fully embrace herself in the surroundings and unplug from her phone. She is excited about meeting new people and most nervous about the flight.

Nicole Pare

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Nicole is a junior in Linden from Culver. She chose this trip as she loves learning about South African history and the country is a beautiful place. She is excited about meeting all the students we’ll be working with and going on safari and is nervous about the travelling itself. One of her trip goals is to grow in her knowledge of other cultures and be more comfortable with change. One fun fact is that she loves to paint.

Regina Leon

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Regina is a junior in Ithaka from Mexico City. She chose South Africa because she thinks that it is an opportunity of a lifetime. She feels that this trip will help her get closer to a lot more people and will help me learn so much more about a new country that she never thought she would be learning about or even going to. She is excited about animals and nervous about the plane rides, but ultimately hopes to step out of her comfort zone and try new things. A fun fact is that she adopted a dog during the summer and named her Lettuce.

Sophie Parker

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Sophie is a junior in Linden from Knox, Indiana. Having been a member of LCA from three years and being passionate about LCA and the partnerships we have, Sophie conducted a donation drive for the students at Christel House of items they expressed a need for. She wants to meet the girls that the donations were going to and is excited to learning about the stories of the students at Christel House and conduct the leadership workshops with them. She is also very excited for elephant sanctuary because they are her favorite animal, and most nervous about the long flight, as she has never been on a flight over five hours long or flown over large bodies of water. This trip will be Sophie’s first time out of the US, and she wants to change her perspective on the world: “I want to become more humble, grateful, and open-minded because of the trip and the experiences I will have.”

Sophomores

Angel Bao

Angel is a sophomore in Court from Beijing, China. She chose this trip because of the chance to go to a continent she has never been to before, but is also a bit nervous about the new environment. She is excited to work with the students, make long lasting relationships with people on the trip, and learn to appreciate a new culture. Angel has also played the piano since she was 5.

Becky Young

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Becky is a sophomore in Tower from Canton, Michigan. She chose this trip as she wanted new experiences culturally and the events on this trip allow her to do so, and a goal is to come back knowing or having seen something she never has before. She is excited to go to the elephant sanctuary and to form connections with the kids at Christel House and is nervous about giving a bad first impression on the kids in the workshops. One fun fact is that she has skied since she was four but switched to snowboarding at 12.

Jenna Pae

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Jenna is a sophomore in Linden from Yorktown, Indiana. She chose this trip as she wanted to go on a trip that encompassed both cultural enrichment and service opportunities and felt that South Africa was the perfect combination of that. She is most excited about seeing the vibrant culture of South Africa and most nervous about jet lag. A goal of hers is to learn about the daily lives of the people of South Africa and be able to have good conversations with the students of Christel House through the Compassionate Listening workshop. One fun fact: Jenna is a brown belt in karate.

Paloma Guerrero

Paloma is a sophomore in Ithaka from Mexico City. She has always wanted to go to South Africa and hopes to get out of her comfort zone, enjoy as much as she can, and learn about the different culture. She is excited to meet the students at Christel House and for FOOD, and is most nervous about jetlag coming back. An interesting fact is that she has had over 10 fractures.

Rose Hittle

Rose is a sophomore in Court from Indianapolis, Indiana. She wants to learn, experience a new culture, and widen her perspective while helping others, and is excited to meet and create bonds with students from Christel House as well as learn about South African history. She is most nervous about flying on the plane for a long time to a new country and continent. A goal is to make friends with new people and be willing to try new things. One fun fact is that her name can be repeated to form a sentence: Rose arose in rows of roses.

Taylor Lewandowski

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Taylor is a sophomore in Ciel from Culver. She is excited to learn, experience, and grow in a new culture, as well as visit Christel House and form new relationships. She is most nervous about the plane ride. Her goal is to bring a brand new journal dedicated for this trip only, and have time each day to reflect and write about what she did and experienced each day. She also wants to be present mentally and not just physically while taking everything in day by day. A fun fact is that she is really good at “the worm” dance.

Freshmen

Angela Zhang

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Angela is a freshman in Benson dorm from Fremond, California. She chose this trip to help those in need and is looking forward to leading workshops and visiting the elephant sanctuary. She is most nervous about safari animals and bugs. One of her goals is to learn words in a different language and meet new people. A fun fact is that she can turn her wrist 360 degrees.

Katherine Beeson

Katherine is a freshman in Atrium from Houston, Texas, but she lives in Culver. She was initially interested in this trip because of her membership in LCA, but after learning more she really wanted to be a part of it. She says that “it seems to be a trip where many friendships are made, both with students at Christel House and fellow Culver students. It is also a great oppurtunity to learn about the history of South Africa, and to develop leadership skills. As a freshman, I think this trip will be a great way to start off my Culver career.” She is excited to meet and exchange stories with students at Christel House as well as visit the elephant sanctuary, and is most nervous about the flight as she has never flown over water, had a long flight, or experienced jetlag. She has also never left the country before. One of her goals is to learn as much as she can about leadership and teamwork and expand her global perspective.

 

Pre-Journey Preparations: The Long Road from Culver to Cape Town

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Okay, this is the South Africa GPS trip. Still, the same rules apply. Our team prepared for over four months for this trip, and we’re so excited to share what we’ve been planning with you before we make the long journey to South Africa.

Our entire team first met in November, and we immediately began icebreaker sessions in order to create a cohesive and friendly team environment. We began to meet more frequently as the big day grew nearer in order to go through workshops and talk about packing, money, and security concerns.

The South Africa trip is not only about experiencing everything the beautiful country has to offer, but also to facilitate leadership workshops. Because it is a Leadership Committee for Africa sponsored trip, our main goal has been to share CGA leadership techniques with the student leaders at Christel House South Africa.

We divided our team up into four groups of five students each to become student leaders for the Strengths, Teamwork, Compassionate Listening, and Communication workshops. We’ve dedicated our time to train in order to share our knowledge and strengths with our peers at Christel House!

A bit more behind the scenes, LCA has been running concessions throughout this year in order to keep the trip’s cost down, as well as to buy extra water and supplies. LCA funds from previous years also sponsored some scholarships. By the end of January, LCA made just over $4900 through various athletic events, including football, basketball, hockey, and volleyball games. Thank you to everyone who supported us!

Lastly, Sophia Parker ‘20 and Ali Kwiecien ‘19 from Linden dorm ran an ambitious South Africa drive throughout the year in order to collect donations for the children of Christel House. They accepted underwear, feminine sanitary products, accessories, soaps, and various other products. And it was a huge success! They managed to gather 609 undergarments, 970 individual feminine hygiene products, 793 shower items, and many other miscellaneous items. The South Africa team met in Linden Lounge multiple times to help organize and pack the products.

We’ve been working really hard in order to make this trip a success. We really want to make this trip a life-changing experience for everyone involved, and the dedication all of the team members put into this trip is admirable.

I hope you enjoyed this post! We’ll be posting an introduction to every member of our team very soon. Please stay updated with our experiences and wish us luck for smooth and safe travels!

-Jenna Pae