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Philadelphia students taste the flavors of West African cuisine ahead of trip to Côte d'Ivoire

Teenage Philadelphia students enjoy West African cuisine before trip to Côte d'Ivoire
Teenage Philadelphia students enjoy West African cuisine before trip to Côte d'Ivoire 01:59

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of teenage boys from Philadelphia are preparing to embark on the trip of a lifetime to West Africa, Their mentors gave them a taste of the flavors they'll be savoring on the Ivory Coast.

Tamika Boyd ran through the checklist for her son, Ibrahim Smith, ahead of his big adventure to Côte d'Ivoire, Africa. He's one of nine boys traveling with the KB Foundation mentorship program, and at 13, it'll be his first time on a plane.

"He's going to be able to say at 13: 'I went to Africa, I've been to the Ivory Coast, I've been somewhere. I've done something. I have a passport. I have a stamp on my passport,'" Boyd said. "Because I have a passport and no stamp, so I'm excited for him."

The boys have about two months until they take off across the world.

Parents tackled visa applications on Tuesday while their sons prepped their taste buds with traditional West African dishes like jollof rice, plantains, braised chicken and fried fish.

"You will be pushed outside of your comfort zone. So we will have meals where you will be eating food that you're not familiar with," mentor Nicholas Elmi said.

Judging by the way they devoured their plates, these Philly boys had no problem expanding the palate and exploring international flavors.

"It kind of tastes like my mom's food, so I can enjoy it," one student said. 

Although there was no dessert on the menu, the sweetest part of the meal for Justin Fishman, the vice president of the KB Foundation, was witnessing his mentees actually engaging in dinner conversation, with not a smartphone in sight.

"They are having genuine conversations. They're smiling. They're happy," Fishman said. "This is a rare event for us to see 13-, 14-year-old boys spending time together like this, listening to each other." 

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