Quebec Student Participates in International Cultural Exchange Program in South Africa

Charlene Bayer, this year’s Golden Key/ING DIRECT creative writing competition winner, was one of seven Montreal drama students invited by the Ubuntu Education Fund to participate in a 3-1/2 week international cultural exchange program in South Africa. The program’s general idea was to raise awareness about the social issues brought on by AIDS and poverty in both Canada and South Africa. While preparing for the trip, Charlene had decided that she wanted some of the prize money received from the ING Direct writing contest to go towards helping some of the underprivileged children she would be working with in South Africa. How to do this effectively and practically was not so obvious. She decided to donate 1/3 of the prize money, so she purchased US$300 in American Express traveler’s cheques. After about a week being there, meeting the children, observing how they live, and learning about how their education system compares to ours, she came up with her own idea about how she could best help these children. She noticed that most of the school program was academic, and it was sorely lacking in funds to offer any kind of arts program like we are privileged to have in North America. She told one of the adult coordinators at the program that she would like to purchase some art supplies in order to help bring some of the joy she had found in arts to the children of Missionvale, South Africa, whom she had become fond of during the short time she worked with them. To read more about this article, please visit &

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