Roosevelt’s Hands for a Bridge class have begun their journeys in their respective corners of the world, half to South Africa and the other half to Northern Ireland. Hands for a Bridge is a community of people looking to unite schools from both Northern Ireland and South Africa. The program has helped encourage interaction between Roosevelt students and students from these two countries. However, it has also proliferated interaction within each of those communities. It may then seem ironic that some HFB students feel that the Northern Ireland group is disappointingly under-represented in the Roosevelt program. Junior Juno Spafford, one of the students traveling to Northern Ireland, revealed that HFB may not be as unifying a program as it may seem.
While all the students seem happy with where they are being sent, Spafford mentioned with slight discontent, “[the group going to South Africa] already have all of these friends and everything, since they visit Roosevelt so often.” That seemed to be only a small part of the issue. “It seems like an Africa-based program. They say it isn’t, but it really feels like that,” she added. With this apparent issue of misrepresentation, there seems to be an unanticipated side effect. Spafford felt that while the students from South Africa have been keeping in touch with Roosevelt students, those from Ireland have not. “It’s kind of nerve racking — are they going to want to see us?” Spafford worried.
Junior Alex James, a HFB student going to South Africa, didn’t seem to have much to say in contradiction to Spafford’s statements. In response to her claim of inequality between the two groups, James explained, “I think that’s true, but it’s tough for Nolet…he has more exposure with South Africa. I don’t think it’s intentional.” James made a point to mention that they had begun reading a book centered around Northern Ireland, so that portion of the program wasn’t completely neglected. In many student’s opinions however, reading a book doesn’t equate to the personal experience that those going to South Africa receive.
In spite of this slight controversy within the two groups, both students are still excited for their trips. Both Spafford and James stated that there isn’t any resentment between the two groups, simply some dissatisfaction directed at the program itself. When asked, James and Spafford both said that they were very excited to travel to their respective countries; James in particular has never been out of the United States. HFB may not be a perfect manifestation of equality, but since it’s conception, it has exposed Roosevelt students to international opportunities once thought impossible.
Featured Picture: HFB students prepare to leave for their trips. Photo by Conor Courtney