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Cape Verde beckons to a team of intrepid high school ambassadors who'll be hitting the island nation come April as part of the Wareham Public Schools Global Education Team's first student trip.
"I've been to Cape Verde before. ... But I want to see more of it, like where my parents and grandparents are from," said Malange DePina, 16, a Wareham High School student whose father is from Cape Verde.
The Global Education Team, whose members are called global ambassadors, is a group of students who participate in a number of cross-cultural programs with a partner school in Cape Verde and, coming soon, one in China, said Henry St. Julien, social studies chairman at Wareham High School, and one of the team's faculty advisers.
The team spans the elementary, middle and high schools with elementary students learning Cape Verdean dance and high schoolers communicating via the web with peers across the ocean.
DePina and the rest of her teammates connected with their Cape Verdean sister school in the city of Santa Cruz via Skype - an Internet video phone service - starting last school year. But chatting over the Internet, which sometimes proves difficult due to unreliable connections in Cape Verde, can't hold a candle to meeting face-to-face, and that's why the 10 students slated to go on the weeklong trip - provided they can raise the money - are excited seven months before taking a single step.
"It's all about learning other cultures. ... We get to experience things other people at other schools don't," DePina said.
The experience, however, won't come cheap. The team needs $15,000 - $1,500 per student - before they can go anywhere. A number of donors stepped up recently, however, including one yesterday who committed to contributing over $2,000, said Ana Miranda, director of operations and finance for the school district.
Miranda, 57 and from Cape Verde, will be returning to the country during the April trip for the first time since she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 5, she said.
The trip's been seven years in the making, St. Julien said. While teachers from Cape Verde have come to Wareham and vice versa, the students from each country have never interacted face-to-face.
"It was surprising just talking with them, seeing what they think of us," Sam Brogioli, 16, who will leave the U.S. for the first time during April's trip, said. "I'm really expecting a culture shock."
Most of the students, like Brogioli and senior Hailley Crete, 17, have no ties to Cape Verde except for the team, they said. For them, the trip will be to a place they've only experienced in small doses through festivals or events in the U.S.
"It'll be an eye-opener ... it'll remind us that this isn't the only culture," Crete said.
Even for those with ties, the excitement is palpable more than half a year out.
"This is near and dear to my heart. I'm from Cape Verde, I was born there," Miranda said. "It's changed quite a bit since I left. It's going to be very emotional."
This program aired on August 19, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.
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