Liberal Arts student establishes Youth Enterprise Program in South Africa

Amanda Miller
November 21, 2018

William Okrafo-Smart, a senior double majoring in psychology and global and international studies with minors in sociology and economics in College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State, spent the past summer interning with IKhaya Le Langa, a nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ikhaya Le Langa engages in entrepreneurial and community development to reverse the legacy of apartheid in Langa, Cape Town. The organization works to revitalize the Langa Quarter, an area housing approximately 7,000 people, through different projects to make the township cleaner, greener and safer.

Okrafo-Smart considered studying abroad a “must-do” even before he entered college. Knowing he had only one summer left for an international experience, he went to the Education Abroad Fair to find a program to best fit his interests. Council on International Educational Exchange’s internship abroad program stood out to him and he eventually found an internship in Cape Town, South Africa.

Okrafo-Smart received funding from the Career Enrichment Network in the College of the Liberal Arts to support his international experience. The network is a resource for all Liberal Arts students who are seeking opportunities to engage in career-related, international and professional development activities.

During his internship, Okrafo-Smart established a Youth Enterprise Program. Aimed at introducing the youth of Langa to the foundational aspects of entrepreneurship, he designed, implemented and facilitated a five-week series of workshops. Through the program, students set up informal businesses to help their community. He taught several workshops as well, discussing topics like personal development, leadership, business fundamentals, and marketing.

Okrafo-Smart credits his liberal arts education with not only helping him succeed with his project but with landing the opportunity to work on it in the first place.

“My employer was excited to see that I majored in psychology and global and international studies (wealth and inequality pathway). He told me that my areas of study were perfect for understanding and unpacking the intergenerational trauma that haunted the community as well as being able to understand the economic aspects of poverty. He gave me the project because of my background. My liberal arts education allowed me to effectively work on a project that had a meaningful impact on a community in need.”

-- William Okrafo-Smart, senior at Penn State

Okrafo-Smart currently serves as an advanced facilitation coach at World in Conversation, a center for public diplomacy in the College of the Liberal Arts that hosts cross-cultural dialogues. As a coach, he helps design workshops to teach conflict transformation and management. He is also a family leader for BLUEprint, a peer-mentoring organization that assists first-year and change-of-campus students of color with their transition to Penn State. He was also an ambassador for the Multicultural Resource Center Leadership Council.

While Okrafo-Smart still isn’t sure exactly what career he wants to pursue after graduation, his internship helped him realize his passion for social change, and he hopes to work with a non-profit organization.

“I went into this internship curious about the field of social entrepreneurship and community development. This internship has taught me much regarding global development, tenacity, and creative freedom, what it takes to be a social entrepreneur and what it means to work with a community in need. This experience has also made me feel bolder and empowered me and fueled my passion to work in a position of social change for my long-term goals.”

Anyone who would like to help Liberal Arts students pursue internships, study abroad, research, and other enrichment experiences like Okrafo-Smart’s, may visit the College of the Liberal Arts’ Giving Tuesday page and give to the Liberal Arts Edge Fund on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Graduates of the last decade can double their impact because the University will match their gifts up to $100 on Giving Tuesday.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 21, 2018