07 Sep 2023

A Leadership Journey

Josh Pereira


History books and websites share the stories of South Africa’s tumultuous past, but imagine if you had the opportunity to learn about the country’s struggle for freedom and equality first hand by walking through the home of Nelson Mandela or visiting the Apartheid Museum.

That’s what a group of diverse teens from Rhode Island had a chance to do this summer. The group was part of a two-week educational and cultural experience journey through South Africa put on by A Leadership Journey (ALJ), a non-profit organization that features a youth educational travel program offering advocacy development and international and domestic cultural education experiences.

ALJ’s recent two week journey to South Africa provided an immersive experience of culture and education. Visits to Mandela’s home and the Hector Pieterson and Apartheid Museums deepened the teens’ knowledge about the country’s epic struggle against apartheid.

Many of these teens wouldn’t have access to travel and this valuable educational experience without this opportunity and financial resources provided by ALJ.

ALJ focuses on using travel as the vehicle to cultivate a stronger understanding of social justice, advocacy, global citizenship, leadership and a deeper understanding of prioritizing mental health and wellness in order to decrease the levels of anxiety, stress and depression youth often experience.
Raised by his grandparents, Lloyd faced many challenges growing up, but he focused on the support he had received from his teachers, coaches and mentors.

It fueled Lloyd’s passion to build A Leadership Journey. Providing access to international travel experiences is only a portion of what A Leadership Journey delivers to its teenage participants. With support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection, ALJ provides travel opportunities and a variety of programs and resources to teens of diverse backgrounds. Education is at the core of everything.

Julie Myrthil immigrated to America from Haiti and settled in Providence with her family about a half dozen years ago. She is now a senior at the Village Green Charter School. Through ALJ she was able to travel to South Africa and spent this past summer enrolled in the Brown University summer pre-college program.

“To get international leadership experience is amazing. You learn so much through travel,” said Julie. “But this is not about getting a free vacation. It’s about learning about global issues, about growing as a person. The opportunities I have been provided by Akeem and ALJ have been amazing.”

Makayla Boxell has immersed herself in ALJ’s offering. Since joining ALJ a year ago, she has completed a mental and emotional awareness program, advocacy development program for social justice, traveled to South Africa and also took part in Brown University’s summer pre-college program.

“ALJ is much more than travel. It was clear from the start that if you were only in it to travel you were not going to get anything out of it,” said Boxell, now a senior at Portsmouth High. “You learn throughout the year and by experiencing traveling with the right kind of mindset you are able to grow. I feel like a changed person. Every single day brought new experiences that gave me a different perspective about so many things. “Through ALJ I got to meet so many people, have learned so much and am so much more confident. I’ve got so much more hope for my future now.”

ALJ is now preparing its next journey to Senegal in June 2024. For more information click here or contact Akeem Lloyd at

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