Claflin juniors and seniors were selected to travel to Guayaquil, Ecuador for Afro-America Connections, a three- month joint teaching/internship program that spans from January thru April. The program was developed to connect African American students who attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) with Afro-Ecuadorian cultures.

The Claflin student participants are:

• Alissa Malbrough, senior, Spanish major

• Ivah Levy, senior, criminal justice major

• Thomas Webb Jr., junior, history major

This joint teaching/internship program will allow students the opportunity to develop a short curriculum and implement cross - cultural skills while teaching a ten-week African American History course in English at the CentroEcuatoriano Norteamericano (CEN), a U.S. Ecuadorian Binational Center. The program is in its tenth cycle, and focuses on giving teens ages 14-18 from lower economic and marginalized communities the opportunity to learn English and gain leadership skills.

Alissa Malbrough, a Columbia, S.C. native, is accustom to serving abroad and looks forward to making an impact in Ecuador. During her studies at Claflin, Malbrough has traveled to Puerto Rico, Cuba and Argentina to study and conduct research.

"As a Black woman in the United States today, I believe that it is important to dialogue with diverse cultures about what is happening in black culture and what it means to be black in America," shared Malbrough.

Malbrough also looks forward to immersing herself into the Afro-Ecuadorian culture, serving in the community projects and developing her career interests in international development and international affairs.

In addition, the program includes a virtual, distance learning component that will include 16 additional HBCU students who will serve as guest lecturers.

"I'm looking forward to implementing what I learned in the classroom at Claflin, engaging with students and teaching them interactive ways to learn African American History and English skills," said Sumter, S.C. native, Ivah Levy.

Afro-America Connections interns will also assist with community outreach and leadership projects with Afro-Ecuadorian civil society organizations such as: Trinibox, a youth sports outreach program for at-risk youth, Mujeres de la Lucha, an Afro-Ecuadorian women's association, and Afro-America XXI, an Afro-Ecuadorian human rights organization.

"When I return to Claflin at the completion of the program I hope that I gained a greater appreciation for diverse cultures and that I have a broader perspective about the world," concluded Levy.

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