A Newark resident and Stockton University student Mahalia Bazile will be staying with a family for part of the eight weeks she is spending this summer nearly 8,000 miles from her New Jersey home.
According to Stockton University officials, Bazile won the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and left her hometown of Newark for Cape Town, South Africa earlier this month.
In a state released by Bazile she said, “I wanted to travel to South Africa to learn indigenous languages and culture, because, as a black person in predominantly white institutions, I want to understand the history and cultural value that lies in Cape Town".
“In times of increased cultural misunderstandings and racial tensions, I am deeply interested in learning about South African social culture after apartheid, to build and gain through interpersonal experience a more inclusive and global perspective of the world and its agents.”
Bazile, a Communications major with math and political science minors, will be a senior in the fall.
“I set myself out to be well rounded in my academic career, but most importantly, my way of thinking,” she said “This is in the hope of one day becoming a news executive producer, or possibly a commentator, to take charge of the narrative and relay facts to the people that represent them and their interests.”
Bazile served as a student senator in her freshman and sophomore years where she also joined the Unified Black Students Society (UBSS) as a freshman, subsequently becoming secretary, then vice president and now president. She is also active in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. “My chapter - Phi Mu, has meant so much to me and has played such an incredible role in my time here at Stockton,” she said.
Bazil plans to learn some of the indigenous languages such as Afrikaans or Xhosa, and to play traditional instruments including the uhadi, a mouth bow. She is looking forward to learning cultural dances such as the Isicathulo, in which dancers stamp the ground wearing “gumboots,” or wellingtons, all in one of the world’s most multicultural cities.
“Stockton has provided me with unique opportunities to shine and grow in my abilities as a student and soon to be working professional,” Bazile said. She started as an Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) student and now works mentoring other students in the Coordinated Actions to Retain and Educate (CARE) program.
“In my time here I have gotten to know the diverse stories of students and faculty that continue to motivate me to seek adventure as well as knowledge. I have gotten the opportunity to be on Student Senate, a Residential Assistant, and now president of UBSS, and these positions have made me cherish Stockton all the more,” Bazile said.
“I care dearly about developing connections with people through valuing our differences,” she said. “I encourage myself and others to learn more about how to value and appreciate people for their identity. I believe we cannot limit ourselves to the social norms or pressures that seem so commonplace in our society. This goes for racial differences, cultural differences, differences in sexual orientations, or religion - the list goes on.
“What matters is for us to learn from our history in how poorly we’ve handled difference, reconcile with it, and learn from it to ensure we move forward in a positive direction.”
Bazile is working on developing a blog, so check later for posts about her trip on: onestepfromtheheart.tumblr.com
The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program enabling students of limited means to study or intern abroad and gain skills that support the nation’s security and economic competitiveness. Gilman, a Republican congressman from New York who died in 2016, focused on foreign policy throughout his 30 years of service.
INFORMATION-PHOTO CREDIT: Stockton University (stockton.edu)