As Center Director for the Cape Town Project Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute it is my responsibility to identify local collaborative partners, develop and co-advise six student projects, and manage day-to-day operations including housing and transportation during our two-months Global Programs Interactive Qualifying Projects. Collaborative partners include government officers, non-governmental organizations, and academia. My approach is to identify a range of partners and projects that reflect the diversity of both social experiences and initiatives occurring in Cape Town, with work in both high- and low-income neighborhoods. I idealize that students will engage as a collective cohort, having a deep understanding of their own project, but sharing their experiences with their colleagues to gain an appreciation for the diversity that exists in Cape Town.
To enrich students’ intercultural learning through a process of cultural mentorship, I have developed pre-departure discussion sessions. Trained students who completed their Interactive Qualifying Project in Cape Town lead these sessions. The discussions aim to develop empathy through reflections on perceptions and expectations, promote critical thinking on issues of difference, power, and privilege, and provide an opportunity for returning students to both consider their learning and educate others.