International Study Program (ISP)

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol facilitates the International Study Program (ISP) in Africa and Latin America for members of our Rites of Passage Program, Liberation Program and ASTEP. It is a natural continuation of our work on leadership development, Pan African and Latino/a history, and global awareness. From hectic urban centers, to peaceful villages, to mountain tops and pristine beaches, our members are immersed in the rhythms of the host country: learning, exchanging, drumming, dancing, exploring, growing during a month overseas. They gain an expansive understanding and appreciation of humanity and broaden their global awareness. Inevitably, they return home more motivated and better prepared as students, youth leaders and global citizens.

Global Studies, Knowledge of Self & Group Bonding

ISP participants examine the history, culture, geography, environment, social, and political conditions of Africa and Latin America toward understanding world history, US foreign policy and of what “globalization” means across settings. Each program focuses on issues specific to the host country. In Ghana it is Pan Africanism and the Translantic Slave Trade, in Brasil, landless rights/land use and Afro-Brasilian culture, and in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the “New World,” sovereignty and immigration. Through firsthand encounters, our members develop greater appreciation for the similarities among people, and their differences. They confront their legacy and beliefs in ways that cannot be derived from textbooks or documentaries. Two weeks spent in a Ghanaian village or in small town in Brasil connects young people to countries where they or their families are from (Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica). These hands-on experiences are deeply empowering and bonding as together youth learn about the complex history and cultures of the African Diaspora.

Coordination

ISP is coordinated by Jason Warwin who has over 20 years experience in international education programming. Day-to-day facilitation is rotated among BHSS staff who work in pairs on program planning and facilitation, fundraising and logistics. They serve as teachers, guides, caregivers, and friends, offering their knowledge of the host country and global issues, cross-cultural sensitivity, conflict resolution, and first aid. ISP has three components.

1. Preparation

Each Fall our teens apply to ISP. From January through June the group prepares for the overseas experience by participating in bi-weekly workshops, conducting research, meeting with guest experts, going on cultural outings, and taking foreign language lessons. They create a Mission Statement of collective goals for program, and just before departing for overseas, go through a 3-day Orientation. Each participant also receives a Handbook with an overview of the host country, program policy and packing list.

2. Immersion

The group divides its time overseas between urban areas and extended stays in a town or village. They have exchanges with youth from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), work on community projects, and meet with U.S. government officials. Youth facilitate seminars, conduct ethnographic research, make public presentations, and attend foreign language, history and culture classes at a university taught by local professors. Spontaneous activities and adventures help make the learning process exciting and fun. A Curriculum of articles, literary and encyclopedia excerpts, and social data is a primary resource. Every participant contributes to a Group Journal that becomes a record of each day’s activities and the meaningful insights acquired while studying and living overseas.

3. Exhibition

Once back home each participant shares his/ her new knowledge and perspectives with their families, schools and communities by, for example:

  • Giving a slide show presentation

  • Writing an article for our blog, RealityCheckOnline.org

  • Installing a photography exhibition

  • Shooting and producing a video

  • Using their new knowledge of human rights issues to work for social change

Host Countries, Theme & Key Partners

Since 1996, BHSS has facilitated ISP in:

  • Morocco & Spain (1996): Journey of the Moors

  • South Africa (1997, 2005): Reconciliation & Renewal

  • Mexico (1998): Olmec Tour

  • Egypt (1999): Journey to Antiquities

  • Ghana (2001, 2007, 2011): Sankofa Tour - Dr. Kodzo Gavua, Archaeology Department Chair, University of Legon (Accra) and Thread community organization (Ntonso)

  • Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic (2003, 2008): De Nueva York a Las Islas - Student Agency Services (Santo Domingo, DR) and La Hermidad (Bonao, DR)

  • Brasil (2006, 2009): Spirit of the Diaspora - Irmãos Unidos (Arembepe) and Afro Reggae (Rio de Janeiro)

ISP works with university, NGO and secondary school partners whose vast knowledge of the host country and access to sites and resources make for a well-organized program. Our partners enable us to stay connected to the overseas communities we visit year after year. Though our members are relatively privileged in comparison to their African and Lat in Amer i can peers, BHSS is aware that the youth we meet overseas may never have the opportunity to participate in an ISP or travel outside their country. Long-term partnerships ensure those who help to make ISP an immersed and unique experience also benefit from our visit. Through teaching our youth development model, distributing our publications and participating in projects that assist local communities, we offer tangible impact. Adagana in Ghana is modeled on BHSS, and BHSS Co-Founder Jason Warwin started Brotherhood in Brasil (Irmãos Unidos) where he is training local youth workers. It is exciting for our members to know that, unlike a typical tourist experience, they will connect with Adagana or Irmãos Unidos who have a similar mission as BHSS. Bonds forged in cross-cultural understanding and shared values are therefore easily made and youth leadership is supported.

Enduring Impact

ISP is life-changing. Some of our members have never flown before or crossed an ocean. They may have never facilitated a workshop or conducted research, but learn these skills. They return home understanding that to learn history is to learn about the roots of contemporary society, to examine U.S. policy is to explore the effect of globalization, and to learn about others is to learn more about themselves. They renew their appreciation for education and their families and have their social consciousness raised. And though we conduct ISP in the African Diaspora, it opens up the entire world to them. Our alumni are world travelers with global perspectives who have gone onto to study abroad and work overseas.

Ghana (2017)

This year our International Study Program (ISP) returns to Ghana. Over the course of 4 weeks, 12 members and two staff will visit major cities and small villages, including Accra, Kumasi, Wusuta, and Cape Coast. Throughout this time they will meet with students, educators, professionals an

Cuba (2016)

This year our International Study Program (ISP) is traveling for the first time in Cuba. Throughout the month of July, 17 members and four staff will travel from one end of the island to the other, visiting Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo.

Brazil (2015)

This year our International Study Program (ISP) went to Brazil. Over the month of July 19 members and two staff visited major cities and small villages, including Rio De Janeiro, Miguel Perreira, Parati, Salvador do Bahia and Arembepe. Throughout this time they met wit

Ghana (2014)

This year our International Study Program (ISP) returns to Ghana. Over the next 3 weeks 16 members and two staff will visit major cities and small villages, including Accra, Kumasi, Wusuta, Elmina and others. Throughout this time they will meet with students, educator

Ghana (2011)

On July 3, we embark on an amazing experience to live and study in Ghana. For a few of us, this journey will be the first time we are on a plane; for others, it will be the first time we are leaving the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut; and for m

Brazil (2012)

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol International Study Program will be held in Brazil in July of 2012. Our members are in Brazil for the next four weeks – Rio, Miguel Perriera, Parati, Salvador, Arembepe – where they will meet with NGO’s like Centro Comunitario Lidia Dos

Dominican Republic / Haiti (2013)

July 9th, 2013

This year, 12 ISP members and long time staff Cidra Sebastien and Nando Rodriguez left on July 2nd for Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Major stops include Santiago, Bonao and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and Cap-Haitian, Hinche and Por