Minnesota teen watches election — from South Africa

Election Day here is plenty exciting. Imagine being an American teen watching it from half-way around the world. Maggie Burgeson, an Arden Hills 16-year-old, will see this Election Day story unfold from Cape Town, South Africa.

She and 15 other young women students from the United States and elsewhere will watch election returns and the start of a new chapter in American history over breakfast with U.S. Consul General Alberta Mayberry in Cape Town. (It’ll be breakfast because of time zone differences.) 

Burgeson, a junior at Minnehaha Academy, is spending a semester with The Traveling School, an academic and adventure program that challenges young women to step outside the worlds they know.

“South Africa is really buzzing for Obama,’’ Maggie told her mother, Marsha Burgeson, who says her daughter is looking at her country and her life in a different way since she’s traveled around South Africa this fall.

 “Maggie’s stories are incredible,’’ said Burgeson.  She’s been profoundly affected by what she’s seen and done, Burgeson said.

Among her experiences: walking through tiny homes cobbled of tin, (“They’re the size of my bedroom,’’ Maggie said.)  visiting an AIDS clinic, seeing extreme poverty (“I’m giving away all my possessions,’’ the girl said.) and accomplishing what she never could have imagined she would (mountain climbing).   

The school, run out of Bozeman, Mont., features schooling and experiences at different locations around the world with this student group also planning to visit Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.

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