San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

The Mundt Peace Scholarship sends students to Cape Town, South Africa

Eight SDSU students had the opportunity to assist in humanitarian aid projects
Valeria Hutchings poses with LoveLife colleagues. (Courtesy of Valeria Hutchings)

This summer, eight San Diego State University students received the opportunity to participate in humanitarian aid projects in the Langa Township in Cape Town, South Africa through the William R. Mundt Memorial Scholarship for Cross-Cultural Peace Internships. 

According to the Aztecs Abroad database, the Mundt Peace Scholarship provides students with the opportunity to get first-hand experience working with non-governmental organizations, government aid agencies, humanitarian organizations and more. 

During their internships, the selected students complete services in various sectors, including education, healthcare, community outreach and sustainability. 

“The students I worked with could have been the same people I went to high school with—they just grew up differently,” said Darya Ardehali, a junior studying global humanities who worked with Just Grace, one of the four programs. 

The Mundt program started in 2019 when nine students were sent to Cambodia to participate in similar program objectives.

The 2023 summer session created a home base for the Mundt program as students will return to Cape Town next year. This program has also allowed students to create their unique opinions about the racial divide, career aspirations and community work.

Daniel Carr, a senior double majoring in international security and conflict resolution and geography, and Jesa Miclat, a senior majoring in television, film and media, worked together at Ikhaya Le Langa. The organization focuses on creating sustainable communities in South African townships through initiatives focusing on empowering young people and promoting entrepreneurship. 

“Employees at Ikhaya Le Langa tried to put their skills to work or tried to change their community for the better, (and it) was pretty inspiring to be able to work with a great group of people like that,” Carr said.

Miclat described the pair’s efforts in producing a newsletter for the organization, citing this as one of their largest successes. Milcat also spoke about how the assignment with Ikhaya Le Langa cemented her interest in documentary filmmaking. 

Valeria Hutchings, a senior majoring in international security and conflict resolution, worked with LoveLife — a program focusing on healthcare and awareness of sexual violence. In her role, Hutchings led sexual education initiatives, including condom demonstrations.

Students who studied abroad also had cultural lessons while working and living in Langa Township. These lessons were integrated into the Mundt Peace Scholarship program’s mission to promote intercultural competence. 

“The little ones didn’t speak English, so I had to speak to them in isiXhosa, and I didn’t do very well. Just enough for them to understand… that was pretty amazing,” Hutchings said. “I didn’t expect that to be such an experience, but that really did leave such a huge impact on me and I’ll remember that.” 

The four students explained the complexity of their new understanding of South African culture, customs and society. 

“I really wanted to see the perspective of an Asian person from South Africa rather than an Asian American,” Miclat said in reference to her purpose of pursuing the Mundt. 

Hutchings also championed this sentiment, acknowledging how individuals can create change in society.

“You can’t make a change unless you confront the racism, you confront the homophobia, you confront the colonial trauma, you have to be confrontational,” Hutchings said.

Students working under the Mundt Peace Scholarship expressed a multitude of gratitude for the opportunity to exact positive relationships. 

Ardehali spoke passionately about the creation of a speech and debate team at Langa High School through the Just Grace program, which hopes to provide an outlet for students to be creative, expressive and understanding.

“Look within you and see what skills within you can you give to the world,” Ardehali said to students. “What are you passionate about?”

The Mundt Peace Scholarship application for Summer 2024 opens on Nov. 1 and closes on Nov. 27. To learn more or to access the application, visit the Aztecs Abroad Website.