2018 South African International Studies Students’ Arrival in Minnesota

Photo Courtesy of Minnetonka Schools

Photo Courtesy of Minnetonka Schools

Jingjia McIntosh-Yee, Staff Writer

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The International Studies program at Minnetonka High School, directed and led by Chet Masteller, allows for a unique experience and opportunity to build a relationship between Minnetonka students and students from a school in another country. It is a program offered at Minnetonka that is unlike any other. Students begin communicating with another student in a different country about six months before the exchange happens.

Masteller has been the director of the International Studies program at Minnetonka for almost seven years. During his time in this position, he has had the chance to travel to both Mumbai, India and Cape Town, South Africa. He says that each place is unique, and he likes them for different reasons.

“The most exciting thing about International Studies is the growth that the students experience. Not only do they get a chance to learn about somebody else’s culture, but they see their own through somebody else’s eyes. It’s as much a journey about self-discovery as it is about discovering the other culture,” Masteller said.

Recently, a group of students from both Durban Boys School and Rondebosch Boys School in Cape Town attended and took classes with their host students at Minnetonka.

Though both groups of South African students were from all-boys schools and visiting exchange students were males, they still stayed with female host students.

“We had more male students coming here than we had male students in the program. […] Most host families, although they had female students at the high school level, had siblings that were boys as well,” Masteller said.

While in Minnesota, exchange students had the opportunity to participate in group activities with the other exchange students. They also had time alone with their host families to do activities of their choosing.

“I got to visit quite a few places with the group and Chet Masteller, such as Target Field to watch the Twins game (which they won). We went to Minnehaha Falls, Frontenac State Park, University of Minnesota, walked [around] Minneapolis, shopped at the Mall of America, [and] visited the Mill City Museum as well as the Minnesota History Centre,” said Fayed Shaikjee, a student from Durban Boys School who is part of the program.

An obvious difference between the two schools is  that Minnetonka is a co-ed public school, and Rondebosch is an all-boys’ school, but there are also some other differences. Their daily uniforms, lack of AP or IB classes, and smaller physical size are some components that distinguish Rondebosch from Minnetonka. One thing they have in common with Minnetonka is that they take a lot of pride in their school sports.

“We are an all-boys’ school with about 1,000 learners in total. We are a school that takes pride in the… behavior of our boys. We’re about 152 years old,” said Shaikjee.

“It’s the course itself that’s the exciting part, the travel is nice, it’s a great add-on. […] But it’s really the relationships that develop, it’s the results of the class, that to me, really make it special. Anybody can go to a country as a tourist, this is something different,” Masteller said.

Students who have been participated in the International Studies program have had wonderful experiences and learned important values. Not all countries in the program offer the chance to travel to that particular country, but even taking the course itself is a wonderful opportunity in and of itself.

“I believe that the boys have gained something that is of immense value and benefit to their lives. I would like to thank all parties involved in providing such an opportunity,” Shaikjee said in his final words regarding his experience at Minnetonka High School.

 

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