Elizabeth Trigg, William Harris, Tim Tran, Evan Johnson, Makiyah Coppin, Christina Noble. Photo courtesy City of Atlantic City.

AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITY — A diverse group of five Atlantic City-based high school students are on a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to explore one of the world’s emerging democracies in South Africa, courtesy of the City of Atlantic City, officials announced last week.

The students, who started their trip “A Leadership Journey” on June 2 and will run to June 18, include: Makiyah Coppin, a sophomore at Atlantic County Institute of Technology; William Harris, a junior at Atlantic City High School; Melanie Victoria Hernandez-DiDomenico, a junior at Atlantic County Institute of Technology; Evan Johnson, a junior at Atlantic City High School; and Tim Tran, a junior at Atlantic City High School.

Atlantic City Youth Services, led by director Christine Noble, anonymously selected the students based on an essay explaining why they should be chosen for the prestigious trip and their ability to obtain a passport.

South Africa will offer a study of one of the world’s emerging democracies after Blacks won freedom in 1994 after decades of suffering from apartheid. At the southernmost tip of Africa, South Africa is one of, if not, the most stable democracy in all of the continent.

Mayor Marty Small speaks at a news conference announcing the South Africa trip. Photo courtesy of the City of Atlantic City.

With more than 60 million residents, 80% made up of Black South Africans, it is the 24th most populous country in the world with more than 11 official languages, including English. It is the home of the late global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela.

Noble and Atlantic City Youth Services Specialist Elizabeth Trigg are accompanying the students on the trip, along with the founder of “A Leadership Journey” and former member of the Atlantic City Boys & Girls Club, Akeem Lloyd.

“My platform is clear, in Atlantic City we’re all about our youth and seniors,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small in announcing the trip. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our children. My youth services team put this trip together very quickly, which just shows how committed we are to the youth of Atlantic City.

“It takes a lot of courage on the children’s part to get involved in an experience like this, and I told them to soak it all in and not take it for granted. This will change their lives as they become the future leaders of the great City of Atlantic City.”

Noble, who has an extensive background in cultural international travel, said she believes the students will grow from the culturally diverse trip.

“Learning things through cultural experiences is so meaningful, it’s going to open lots of doors, and this exploration is going to lead to self-exploration and jump start their passions as they enter their adult lives,” Noble said. “This is going to be a fun trip, but also an educational one.”

Lloyd said he was grateful for the city taking an interest in the trip. The students will give a report on what they learned when they return from the international trip.

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