Samkelisiwe Attends Yale Young Global Scholars USA

SamK at YYGS

Imagine Scholar, Samkelisiwe, attends the Yale Young Global Scholars program in the USA

My name is Samkelisiwe Chissano. I am 17 years old and I am currently in grade 11. Last month, I got the opportunity to attend the Yale program which was in New Haven, USA at the Yale university through Imagine Scholar.

Yale Young Global Scholars


Yale Young Global Scholars is a two-week long summer program which began on the 8th to the 21st of July. The main idea is to bring together youths from all over the world to inspire and motivate them in the world of science.

The program sparks a light in every young person who attends so that by the time they leave, they have an idea of how to change the world and make it into a better place for us all.

Getting Connected


The Yale program is a great opportunity to get connected to people. Meeting with different people helped me gain perspective on what the rest of the world is like, and to acquire new knowledge. My experience at YYGS has taught me how important it is for us to stay updated with world news and always know what is happening around us.

I have learned a great deal of other things, but most importantly is that even after all that I have seen and learned about the medical field, I still want to be a pediatrician more than anything. I am really grateful to have gotten an experience that has exposed me to so much of the outside world.

Considering an International Education


Scholars studying

Imagine Scholars work hard to keep international university options open

Attending the Yale Young Global Scholars program has also led me to consider applying to Yale University, and other international universities in the future.

Knowing what is expected of me in order to get into Yale has been helpful since I have always wanted to study abroad, but did not really know much about the universities that are available.

Paying it Forward


I will be able to use that knowledge I acquired at YYGS to help others who want to apply to the program. Not only that, but I will also let them know what is needed if a student wants to actually study at Yale.

This opportunity has not only helped me, but has helped open doors to other Imagine Scholar students who want to apply, including peers who did not believe that rural kids like us could do great things.

All they need to do is look at what I have managed to achieve and know that if I can do it, then so can they.

Imagine Scholar is fostering the next generation of ethical and empowered South African leaders. Your contribution is vital to helping us achieve this mission! Support a young leader like Samkelisiwe today:

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Thenjiwe Visits the US (Part 2)


Thenjiwe in Orgeon, US

Student alumni will take over Imagine Scholar’s managerial positions by 2020. Mandisa and Thenjiwe, two alumni, recently gained valuable hands-on leadership experience by visiting the US to gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of running an international nonprofit organization. Below, Thenjiwe writes about her experience at the end of her trip.


Well folks as I had promised; an update on my adventurous exploration of the United States, specifically Camp Caldera:

I want to start by saying thank you to Imagine Scholar and Caldera for the wonderful opportunity to learn, grow and pass on all the great knowledge I got from this trip. I have figured that Camp Caldera is like Imagine Scholar in a way; you can never really explain the positive vibes and energy in the atmosphere there enough for anyone who has never been to understand or relate. One just has to be there in order to understand the greatness of these two environments.

Thenji at Caldera

Thenjiwe at Camp Caldera

Working as an advocate at Caldera was a challenge I would love to go through again. All of the youths were divided into groups and my group was comprised of 10 amazing young women. Every night we had teepee time where just my girls and I would meet and talk about anything. This was a way for us to get to know each other personally and professionally. We became one happy group and for the rest of camp no matter how long and hard a day was, we looked forward to teepee time. We looked forward to all the funny, sad, crazy, informative stories we shared together. Writing about it now makes me realize how we had actually built our own little camp and had become a family within the Caldera community.

Being an advocate challenged my creativity and mental strength. We worked with youth from different parts of Oregon who had different life experiences and unique stories to tell. Somehow all that difference had to be put to one same community. As an advocate I had to think outside the box in coming up with creative ideas to break the ice in my teepee group and make sure we kept a respectful space. I loved it!

“Working at Camp Caldera helped me grow in so many ways and I love that now I look back at all those leadership challenges and smile at how I overcame them” –Thenjiwe

hiking in OR

Thenjiwe and Mandisa hike in Oregon

I would not have done it without the help of the other advocates and my supervisors, though. Caldera will shock you with the great sense of community and family that they have built with the youth there, but nothing beats the friendliness of the staff. My goodness they are so nice! They were all so very supportive and it’s nothing I have ever experienced before, at least not as far as outside Imagine Scholar. I am really grateful for that.

The sad part was going home after having made so many friends and connected with so many young man and women from halfway across the world. I will never forget the life I shared with that community. I like how they also encourage me to come back home to my Imagine Scholar students who need me. I love how they were interested in and respected Imagine Scholar. Camp Caldera was Awesome!

Oh and by the way my teepee group name was Team Awesome! Yes, with an exclamation mark at the end! I love my group and hope to see everyone again!

Thank you Imagine Scholar and Caldera!! You are truly awesome!

Read Part 1 of Thenjiwe’s experience in the US

By sponsoring a Scholar, or making a donation to Imagine Scholar you can support young leaders in endeavors like this! We look forward to welcoming you to our family.



Teepee’s at Camp Caldera

Meet our new Ambassador, Liv Austen

Liv Austen

We are excited to welcome musician and actress, Liv Austen, as our new Ambassador!

Imagine scholar is thrilled to announce a new partnership with UK-based singer, songwriter, and actress, Liv Austen.

Meet Liv Austen

Music came to Liv at a young age, but quickly grew into a fully-fledged career after she gained recognition for her melodic, story-centric songs in London’s music scene. What started as playing small venues turned into launching her first two EP’s, “Workin’ Man’s Dream” and “Who I am Today”, and entertaining audiences throughout the UK’s festival scene!

“Thanks to my parents, music was always present. In our home, in our car, at every event, big or small. My goal is to be a part of somebody else’s everyday life now.”

Presently, Liv Austen is working on a variety of exciting projects as an artist. In addition to working on her newest album, she also writes for other artists while balancing her secondary career as an actress!

Connecting the dots

Artistic expression

The Scholars try their hand at leather work!

From poetry to dress making, and leatherwork to turning plastic bottles into sculptures, we believe in the intrinsic power of the arts! As an organization we couldn’t be more thrilled to find an artist whose passion for creativity is as energized as ours!

“Art helps us explore the parts of us that make us interesting as humans. It explores our insecurities and our triumphant moments and they make life worth living, in my opinion! Humans have been craving telling and hearing stories from the dawn of time. I believe learning how to express yourself through arts will teach you more about yourself than possibly any other discipline you are taught.”

Academic excellence is at the core of our program, however, we see artistic self-expression as an equally vital aspect to the development of young leaders. With the help of individuals like Liv, we will be able to reach new audiences who also believe in our multi-faceted mission.

Working together

“What makes me the most excited about Imagine Scholar is the attention to the individual. It is something I find incredibly important in order to move society forward, to encourage young people to follow their passions and maybe more importantly than anything; encourage them to identify their passion.”

Liv Austen on stage

Liv Austen on stage in London

Our congruent beliefs about celebrating individuality and embracing passion has led Imagine Scholar and Liv Austen to embark on a new journey, together! We couldn’t be happier to welcome Liv to the Imagine Scholar family as our newest Ambassador!

As an Imagine Scholar Ambassador, Liv will act as a mouthpiece for our organization by sharing our story with her audiences and at her live shows. She will also act as a mentor to students in our program.

A brief note from Liv

My favourite saying is “go where you’re celebrated – not where you’re tolerated”. We all deserve to be encouraged to pursue our passions and to develop our skills and our confidence – and Imagine Scholar does exactly that, they celebrate the individual and encourage them to keep going where they are celebrated. I am very eager to support an organisation that works for one of my core beliefs!

If you are a fan of Liv Austen, or share our purpose of igniting creative expression for youths who lack access to artistic resources, please support our initiative by making a donation, or investing in a Scholar:


Stay tuned

To keep up to date on the latest news regarding our partnership, follow Liv Austen and Imagine Scholar on Twitter!

You can also hear Liv’s latest tunes, and check out her upcoming show schedule by checking out her website and YouTube channel.


The Peace Exchange Visits Imagine Scholar

PeaceEx at Kruger

The Peace Exchange and the Scholars visit Kruger National Park

This summer the Scholars engaged in a cultural exchange program with the Peace Exchange. Six students from Chicago, known as Peace Builders, traveled to South Africa and met with the Scholars at Imagine Scholar’s education center in the rural region of Nkomazi. Imagine Scholar hosted the Peace Builders through home stays and connected with their guests on a meaningful level, drawing out the parallels and differences of their lives in different parts of the world.

About the Exchange

The powerful exchange between the Scholars and Peace Builders centered around personal stories, talks on promoting non-violence, cultural performances, and shared experiences. Conversations enabled these youths to understand the impact and societal consequences of inner-city violence in Chicago, and how violence that occurs in South Africa affects a younger generation. While the answers are not always clear, the exchange provided a platform for students from different cultural backgrounds to see the world through a new lens and feel compassion as they attempted to put themselves in one another’s shoes.

What They Learned

Peace discussions

Youths get together to discuss peace on a global scale

Violence is not limited to geographic location, and our scholars learned that their own assumptions about certain parts of the

world, as did the Peace Builders, needs to be tried and tested. Only when an exchange happens on a personal level and violence is humanized can steps toward peace and mutual understanding be achieved.
Justice (Grade 11) had the opportunity to accompany the Peace Exchange to Johannesburg and participated in the last few days of the program with the Peace Builders:

“It was a good thing to meet students from the other side of the world that are similar to us. They encourage us because it’s inspiring to see others doing the same things we do and sharing the same value of community service. The future is in the hands of youth.” -Justice

Sharing culture

The Scholars share traditions from their cultures



Solar Power Project

Solar Power Project

A lifelong interest in engineering and a passion for environmental protection has inspired Rodger to spearhead the installation of a solar power system at our education center in Nkomazi. Rodger’s Solar Power Project will leave a lasting impact on our school for years to come. We invite you get involved in the initiative.

Rodger’s Solar Power Project

“I aspire to become an engineer. Imagine Scholar has inspired me to use my skills and knowledge about electricity to help the environment. I have noticed that our education facilities utilize a good deal of electricity, and I believe we need to cut down on electricity usage and reduce Imagine Scholar’s carbon footprint. Therefore, I chose to design a solar power system.” -Rodger

Rodger has created an innovative solution to a widespread problem in our community: electricity is expensive and unreliable. Last year, he set out to solve this problem for Imagine Scholar by launching his Solar Power Project with the help of a local energy engineer!

Already, Rodger has completed the design of the system in addition to securing the donation of one of the most vital components of the system, a 2kw Victron Tie Grid inverter (valued at US $1,400). He currently needs to raise money to purchase the last remaining materials, which he has confirmed in minimum purchase amounts from a local supplier.



Energy savings:

  • The system will give out 2kw per hour
  • Imagine Scholar’s computers and other appliances that use a sum of 500 watts per hour will be off the grid
  • Total savings will be over 24kw per day

Monetary savings:

  • Imagine Scholar spends over US $2,000 per year on electricity
  • This project will save 75% of annual electricity costs (US $1,500)
  • In five years, over US $7,500 will be saved by this project

In addition to the concrete savings, the implementation of this project will act as a learning experience for Imagine Scholar students who are interested in renewable energy and engineering. The project will also act help to educate the wider community on environmental issues, clean energy, and solar energy capabilities.

Imagine Scholar’s solar panel project will also help protect the school from energy insecurity due to South Africa’s current energy crisis, as well as improving long term sustainability efforts in our rural community.


Support the Project

Rodger still needs to raise $2,137

Solar Power Project

Rodger has currently raised $725 (25%) of the $2,862 needed to purchase the outstanding materials required for the installation. Please visit his Crowdrise campaign page: Imagine Scholar Solar Power Project for more information on the project, and an itemized quote of the outstanding materials.

Learn More About Rodger

“When I was 5 years old, my father introduced me to a mechanic’s safety suit and taught me how to use his tools, which sparked my interest in engineering.” -Rodger

Rodger is a talented and ambitious youth who has made waves in his local community. Aside from being uniquely charismatic and always keen to crack a joke, Rodger’s accomplishments have spanned from personal to professional in 2016. Rodger was the leading member of Imagine Scholar’s Electric Vehicle team, which built and raced their multi-award winning vehicle to the podium in May (watch “Grade 9 to 12 pupils are designing, racing and building electric cars“). He was one of three students from our program to attend the Yale Young Global Scholars Program in Singapore, and has most recently journeyed from Nkomazi to Armenia to attend the prestigious United World College Dilijan!

Mindfulness Program

Mindfulness Program

We’ve joined forces with Headspace to make Imagine Scholar a more mindful place

What is Imagine Scholar’s new Mindfulness Program?


Our program is about more than just academics. Part of fostering well-rounded, thoughtful young leaders is encouraging healthy lifestyles! That’s why we’ve started our new Mindfulness Program. The Mindfulness Program is designed to set guidelines to emotional, physical, and mental health for the Scholars while promoting creativity and balance.

Mindfulness Program for relationships

The Scholars build healthy friendships!

Each day the Scholars:

  • Eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Drink 4 cups of water
  • Exercise for 10 minutes
  • Meditate for 10 minutes




We’ve Joined Forces with Headspace


We couldn’t be more excited to let you know that the popular meditation platform, Headspace, has jumped on board to support our Mindfulness Program and become our partner in health! Before class, our students part-take in a 10 minute guided meditation, courtesy of Headspace, so they can hit the books with a clear mind!

Click to learn more about Headspace

Headspace helps you to meditate for mindfulness! With a variety of guided meditation options, you can get a healthier, happier, and more enjoyable life! Give it a try to get some more Headspace.


The Scholars Share their Thoughts on the Mindfulness Program


“I personally love the mindfulness program because it helps me find peace within myself and it helps me release stress and think much better when in a tough situation. I’m recently more aware of my body and I feel more confident and comfortable.” -Queen (Alumni Intern)

Mindfulness Program exercise

The Scholars get exercise and build teamwork by playing volleyball

“I used to constantly feel tired and had less energy but since I started to meditate and exercise I feel like I can tackle anything. My life in general has improved such that I now find it easy to concentrate in class and I feel more confident with myself. My moods have also improved. I would recommend it for everyone.” -Alpha (Grade 10)

“I used to get migraines, but I haven’t experienced them ever since I started the Mindfulness Program because I now drink a lot of water!” -Florence (Grade 11)