Power of Perception Provides the Power of Travel

in order to create change, we must create opportunities: Nothing says opportunity like traveling to South Africa

Carlee Shimek

MORE POWER TO 'EM. The Power of Perception group will be taking a trip to South Africa to experience cultural immersion. (Photos via Facebook)

Dennis Beale, founder and CEO of Power of Perception (POP), is providing a life-changing experience this summer for 15 POP mentees. From July 20-Aug. 2, a group of high schoolers who are part of the mentoring organization will take an excursion to South Africa.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for these kids to have a good time, understand what different cultures look like, international travel, (and) understand it’s a whole other world out there,” Beale said.

Beale founded POP in February 2020 as a source of support for youngsters identifying as African American or biracial in the Eau Claire area. “Our mission is to create a valuable toolbox for resources to equip these young kings and queens to become contributing citizens in today’s society,” he explained.

In January, POP announced that it had received a $150,000 grant from the Eau Claire-based Pablo Foundation to fund the trip for 20 high schoolers.

Dennis Beale recently won a 2023 Vang
Dennis Beale and members of the POP team at Volume One's Best Night.

The inspiration for the trip came from an experience Beale had after creating the Black Male Empowerment group at UW-Eau Claire, where he took 15 members to London and Paris for a research trip. Seeing how that experience changed those young lives was also life-changing for Beale himself, and ever since, he’s kept that in mind while working on POP.

Along with the educational perspective of cultural immersion and "visiting the Motherland," as Beale said, the trip will include a safari, sightseeing the African penguin population, and visiting the prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated.

“I think (it’s) good exposure because I feel like as Americans, we sometimes take a lot of our freedom and luxuries that we have for granted,” Beale said. “Going over to this country to see what poverty really looks like from their perspective, versus what we think poverty looks like, can be completely different and eye-opening. I think for us to go over there and see that first-hand will be very life-changing.”

After returning from South Africa, the Pablo Center will be presenting a documentary of the trip. One of Beale’s former students, a videographer, is attending the trip and will record it all, so keep an eye out for news on when the documentary screening will take place.

“I want (kids) to understand, in the heart of Black History Month, this is what black excellence looks like; this is what black leaders look like,” Beale said.

His efforts alongside the POP team provide support and inspiration to the African American and biracial community of Eau Claire, the South Africa trip is a monumental achievement and example of that. 

To learn more about Power of Perception, visit powerofperceptioninc.org.