SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION DRIVEN BY SOUTH AFRICA’S EMERGING, SERVANT LEADERS

 

SAWIP inspires, develops and supports annual teams of interns and its whole alumni body to bring about community development through social projects amongst the most disadvantaged and marginalised South Africans.

Subscribe to feed Latest Entries

Leadership behind closed doors

by Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown- University of Pretoria Cyan is a fourth year medical student with a
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 05 July 2015
Experience 0 Comment
"Don't air your dirty laundry" is what we are taught from a young age. Perhaps what we should be teaching is to keep your laundry clean instead. I've been moved by the great memorials and monuments of the incredible leaders we've got to learn about over the last while. Previous presidents, abolitionists, activists and men who changed the course of history forever. Whilst being incredibly inspired by their legacy and the greatness of their service which has immortalized them in history, I've also become aware of the conflicting personal history many of them possess. Whilst I appreciate that norms of behavior is very much rooted in the time and context a person finds themselves in, I can't help but feel disappointed in the personal legacies some heroes leave behind. Everything from multiple mistresses to shattered families lives speak to the destruction that plagued many of these great leaders. History seems to separate the professional accomplishments from the personal lives our their leaders and often pass no judgment on what happened behind closed doors, and whilst that might have worked many decades ago, that divide has become almost invisible in today's world. With an ever increasing presence of social media in the world, a person's private life often entwines with their professional image. In recent events, shortly after announcements that the Supreme Court in the USA had legalised gay marriage in all states‚ UCT SRC deputy president Zizipho Pae wrote on Facebook‚ “We are institutionalizing and normalizing sin. May God have mercy on us”. This sparked outrage and has brought her authority to lead into question and had jeopardized her leadership career severely. She is just one of many that have fallen from grace because of the inability to separate personal and professional opinions and lives. As a young student leader I'm becoming increasingly aware that the leaders we need are not just those who act in accordance with what they believe in public but also in private. We need leaders who understand that being in a position of influence and authority also means being accountable to how you behave behind closed doors. Everyone has drama, but I feel that if you put yourself in a public leadership position it should come with an obligation to be as morally sound as possible in all spheres. I know for certain I would respect many more of our leaders if their philosophies actually penetrated to their weekend behaviour and I hope for our generation to emerge as a generation of leaders that have cleaner laundry not just because it's the right thing to do, but because their leadership philosophy and moral beliefs permeate every sphere of their life.
Tags: Untagged
0 vote

Qualified versus educated

by Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown- University of Pretoria Cyan is a fourth year medical student with a
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 05 July 2015
Experience 0 Comment
Bewildered. Absolutely bewildered. That's how I've felt recently when speaking to the people I've come across. What has been most striking in conversations I've had is the ability of the American people to speak on so many topics and how engrained culture, history and the arts are into everyday life here. It's been fascinating to realize that most people here have an opinion. More importantly, an informed opinion. People read, interact and invest in their continual education constantly. The city is alive with museums, theaters, galleries and protests. Why is find this so enchanting is perhaps because I've never received much of an education in the arts and the idea of learning outside of my study sphere is almost never encouraged from my University. I realize here that this marked difference can be found in the roots of the education system with an entirely different philosophy, a liberal arts education. The American Association of Colleges outline this as: "Liberal Education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings." What I find so appealing out this concept is that it prepares students beyond the mere expectations of getting a qualification and more of preparing them to be active citizens in the world. I find our democracy in South Africa somewhat stunted by some citizens without interest in being active and informed about their country, and without a broader view of the world often being limited by only what they know. This must be one of the very precious things about getting to participate in a program like SAWIP, is the chance to recognize that their is a whole world out there that does things completely differently. The difference in philosophy on education in America seems to create a more democratic society, for citizens seem to be more aware and participatory in their world. Their knowledge in so many spheres on so many topics is inspiring and the idea of educating people not just so that their degree serves the economy, but also so that their citizenship serves their community and country is powerful. I have always dreamt of being able to complete my postgraduate studies at Harvard,but more than just the appeal of immersing myself in a new culture, the chance to be educated in a different philosophy of education seems more exciting than ever. I would love to take an element of this back to South Africa, to try and encourage my peers to pursue educations in the school of life not just the criteria of our qualifications. To know about the arts, be informed of our history and culture and to use our education to become more active citizens in crafting the everyday application of democracy to the way in which we live.
Tags: Untagged
0 vote

(Cab)tivated

by Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown- University of Pretoria Cyan is a fourth year medical student with a
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 05 July 2015
Experience 0 Comment

Public transport is one of the things I appreciate most about this city, however despite the lovely color coding and many maps available I still seem to get lost every now and then and end up having to take a cab to my destination. However, I've learnt more than ever expected from these locals.

 

The SAWIP program lends itself to conversing with some of the most interesting, educated and influential people around, however I definitely appreciated the chance just to chat to some regular locals on some of their views.

 

The first man I met was a South Korean driver who delighted in telling me all the wonderful things about South Korea and his journey to moving to the States. A point he kept emphasizing was how he had been able to break the cycle of poverty by educating his daughters really well here in America and how proud he was of them.

 

He spoke a lot on "Obamacare" and how he is so happy it translates into him being able to afford health care for the first time ever and just how much of a necessity it was. I've only ever had conversations regarding the new healthcare legislation from an academic standing, but how wonderfully refreshing it was to hear from those whom it most directly affects what they think of the changes happening regarding health insurance. A lot of people have pointed out that they think the system is unsustainable, which might be true, but hearing an elderly man tell me he has access to health care at an affordable rate for the first time in his life is definitely heart warming.

 

The second interesting character was a Cameroon driver, who took it upon himself when hearing I was from Africa, to keep me inside his cab until he was finished explaining the recommendations he had for a President Zuma on his pan -African vision. Although it was late and I was eager to go inside, I found it fascinating how deeply passionate this man was about African affairs. I thought some of his ideas were pretty bizarre but was delighted in the fact that so many years after leaving Africa, his heart was still plagued by our worries.

 

I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to chat to all the interesting people I've met at the various functions and work opportunities afforded to me, but how wonderful it was to hear from the average American about issues that affect them and to understand just how far the social security system penetrates into uplifting the lives of those less fortunate.

 

One thing my mom always taught me when traveling is that you don't really know a place until you know it's locals and getting sneak peaks into what real life is for these people has exposed me far more to what matters to Americans and what this city is all about than any book could have ever done.

 

Getting lost sometimes works just oh so wonderfully :)

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

The blame game

by Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown- University of Pretoria Cyan is a fourth year medical student with a
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 05 July 2015
Experience 0 Comment

The chance to work in the office of JSI has given me real insight into how USAID works and just how much America invests into other countries around the world. Just this insight alone has made me rethink a lot about my previous perceptions about America.

 

Studying world war 1 and 2 and particularly Cold War allowed me the opportunity to study and understand why America is the superpower it is today and what exactly they did to ensure democracy is certain countries. However, I always found our sources to be tainted with the idea that America is too quick to invade and too militaristic for their own good. Not just in our curriculum but also through conversations and media reports, I always interpreted the portrayal of America as a bully of certain nations and perhaps too concerned with the the affairs of other nations.

 

However just before I left I watched the movie The Lone Survivor, which documents a true story of a set of marines that attempt a mission to target a Taliban leader that had killed many American  troops in Afghanistan. The mission is compromised by three locals who stumble upon the soldiers hiding in the mountain. They decide to set the locals free and abort the mission, however the locals report their presence to the Taliban and within hours all but one marine dies a violent death at the hands of the extremists. At the end of the movie I felt disgusted at the violence I'd just seen but awoken to the fact that this is a reality of our world. More than the violence, the injustice bothered me. If the troops had killed the three locals many lives on both sides could have been saved. I keep asking myself what I would have done in that situation, but right and wrong becomes so easily blurred in the messy warfare against extremists.

 

The next major perception shift happened when getting a chance to visit Arlington cemetery. The thousands of white, uniform tombstones served as an explicit demonstration of the cost of many of these interventions to the American people, and watching the families walk around the resting place of many loved ones who died in battles from which most of the Western world benefitted, was deeply unsettling. The facts of a history book suddenly become alive with raw emotion and the reality of the horrors of war.

 

With this thought in the back of my mind I've asked my host family many questions regarding American involvement in other countries. My host father, Frank was quick to point out that we are always quick to criticize America until we need their help. This has been all too true for many situations. Whilst I still maintain that involvement in certain countries has been questionable and AID has sometimes been dispensed as political leverage, I think that I never took into account that there is a nation of people whose taxes fund the war on extremists that affect all of us, whose families are missing a generation for the cost of freedom in certain places and who has prevented many crises at their own personal expense.

 

Our discussion on Thursday evening evaluated the attitude of America towards South Africa during apartheid and the policy of quiet diplomacy was strongly criticized. Having thought about involvement of America globally, I also realized through this discussion that we are quick to blame America for doing too much but just as fast to blame when they do too little. It is as if America is expected to always intervene but only to the extent it suits us.

 

Having spent just over a week here, it's already so apparent that history can only be valuable to an extent In teaching historical events. Sometimes it takes experiencing a situation's naked realities to awaken us to the personal cost of what those events entailed to make us truly see.

 

I'm grateful for the chance to have had my perception changed of what this country is all about, and perhaps to be more grateful for what they have done and what they are doing for the stability of the world in which I live.

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

PrejuDAD

by Safa Naraghi
Safa Naraghi
Safa Naraghi is currently completing his final year of a BSc in Mechanical Engin
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 05 July 2015
Reflection 2 Comments

Seeing things through other people’s eyes has always been enlightening for me… I have found it to be one of the defining tools in shaping my learning experience. This week I saw through the eyes of Dr Enos Banda.

 

Dr Enos Banda shared his thoughts on South African  - USA relations with us this week. We touched on many topics throughout this discussion, however what stood out for me the most was his explanation of why we, as human beings, are prejudice. “I like to put things in categories, and the category I put prejudice in is the ‘laziness’ category.” Said Dr Banda. The simplicity of the statement baffled me at first, but as he explained further it became more clear to me that he was in fact spot on. He explained that the only reason we are prejudice is because we are too lazy to want to know more about those individuals or groups that we are prejudice toward. We as humans often become automated in our interactions with each other, we hate it when we need to do or learn something new. If we overcome this automation, and learn more about the ‘others’ there will be no reason for us to be prejudice.

 

After the session Jubulile and I had a short discussion on the topic. She told me that she thought of me during the conversation about prejudice. She thought of the fact that I grew up in a Tswana area. As a way of learning more about the Tswana people, I learnt the language.

 

This got me thinking back to my childhood and how it came about that I learnt to speak Setswana. It boils down to the fact that my dad was the prime instigator. As any child would be, I wasn’t really interested in learning languages. I just wanted to play with my friends in the cul-de-sac we lived in. I just wanted to make mud food, steal lemons from the neighbours lemon tree, play football in the street and buy “slaap chips and russians” (better known as french fries and sausages to non South Africans) with my friends on a Saturday morning. But my dad would insist that I learn the language and he had very cunning ways of making sure it happened. As soon as he found out who our friends were in the cul-de-sac, he made it known that there was a prize for teaching his children Tswana words or phrases. Every time he would drive into the cul-de-sac he would stop right where we were playing and ask, “How many Tswana words have you guys taught Safa and Vafa today? The end of the week is nearly here and if they can say three phrases in Tswana I will take you all to Spur”. Spur is a South African family restaurant. It was a real treat if we got to go, especially if our friends could come with. As you can imagine, our friends were extremely motivated to teach us Tswana. The rest is history I guess…

 

I didn’t realize it then, but what my dad did shaped my whole life. It shaped the way I interacted with people, the friendships I’ve made and the person I am today. I am forever grateful for that. He really kicked the laziness out of me.

0 vote

The Power Of The Arts

by Kgosietsile Tsintsing
Kgosietsile Tsintsing
Kgosietsile Tsintsing has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 02 July 2015
Reflection 2 Comments

I have visited numerous museums since I have been in the US. I have got to thank the Smithsonian Institution for making it possible to go to its museums for free. The first Saturday of our arrival we were granted as a free day to see the city . Anesu and I had planned to visit the National Air and Space Museum, we were both considerably excited about the prospects of seeing an Imax movie. As we were exiting the Smithsonian metro station we bumped into Sivan one of the team members of NSL program.   Still Eager to go to the Air and Space Museum we invited her along, she then invited a friend of hers who was also a team member of the NSL program. We made our way to the Air and Space museum, disappointingly the lines leading into the museum were incredibly long and standing in the que was not an option due to the unforgiving heat. As a collective we decided to find a different museum.

It did not take long for us to find our next destination , we walked across the road to the Hirshhorn Art Museum. Little did I know the amount of learning I would encounter during the visit to this museum.  I particularly enjoyed Shirin Neshat’s exhibition where, she used photographs and video installations to scrutinize the distinctions of gender and power in the Islamic world with her main focus on Iran. The exhibition examined more than twenty years of historical events that took place in Iran, the exhibition went in sequence as the events had occurred. The exhibition began with the ousting of prime Minster Mohammad Mosaaddeq in 1953, it then preceded to the Iranian Revolution in 1779 and finally, the Green Movement election protests of 2009 which subsequently led to the revolutionary upspring regarded as the Arab spring.

A poem by  Forough Farrokzad titled My Heart Grieves for the Garden, which was used by Neshat in her exhibition stood out for, it reads as follows:

No one is thinking of the flowers

No one is thinking of the fish

No one wants to believe that the garden is dying

that the heart of the garden has become swollen under the sun

that the mind of the garden is slowly, slowly draining of green memories

and the gardens feeling is some abstract  thing rotting in the solitude of the garden.

 

The courtyard of our house is alone

The courtyard of our house yawns in expectation of rain from an unknown cloud

The pond of our house is empty

The small, inexperienced stars fall from the heights of trees to the earth

And through the pale windows of fishes abode

the sound of coughing comes at night

The courtyard of our house is alone.

 

My interpretation of the use of this poem by Nehast in her exhibition was that,  she wanted to be the voice for women highlighting the important role women have play in society. In Islamic countries women are oppressed, they are seen as inferiors to males. It is this oppression that lead to unrest and death in Iran.

After some investing on the poet and Neshat I was able to learn more about the relevance of the poem. In the book of Performing The Iranian State edited by Staci Gem Scheiwiller she, elaborates on Nehast use of the above poem in her exhibition. The garden is used as a metaphor for a decaying body and soul. The courtyards, surrounding mosques and houses provide private sanctuaries but surprisingly outdoor areas are characterised as having order and being stable. Putting it into context women are not excluded from courtyards but courtyards are traditionally viewed as male spaces, whereas domestic spaces are associated with women. The idea of the garden is associated with the female body signalling fertility and fecundity. Neshat uses the garden to reflect her dissatisfaction and unhappiness because, a garden cannot grow if it is suffocated and suffering from neglect and lack of love and appreciation.

As much as I tried to make sense of the poem and interpret what it meant, I did not get it entirely correct. The reason for that is that everybody has a different narrative, the only way I could comprehend what was meant in the poem was by making the effort to understand the poem from a different perspective. It was only after I did further research was I able to appreciate the work Neshat and the poem that she had used. The visit to the museum has given me a new perspective to approach my life. Like the poem it could be interpreted in many ways but with some research, you can be taken on a journey with endless insight and knowledge.

 

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

SWEET SUCCESS

by Nadia Gava
Nadia Gava
For a small girl, Nadia has a big mouth and big opinions. She enjoys the occasio
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 02 July 2015
Experience 4 Comments

I plan on following a direction in international law, with a specific focus on human rights. So I’d like to become involved with some or other international organisation that has a humanitarian onslaught.”

*heads nod and hands gesture in confidence*

Nadia, what are you even saying? You have NO idea what you want to do, stop speaking in such vague terms and pretending like you know what’s going on. Alas, it is true: 5 years of studying, various job experiences, community service projects and life in general, but still this kid has no clue what she wants to do. I’m very good at speaking in broad terms and seeming to know what is going on and where I’d like to end up, but when I remove the Veil of Ignorance, I can admit that I’m not yet sure what this means on a practical level.

The past week and a half has seen me spending a LOT of time on Google, researching jobs (not with the intention to apply, but just to see what exactly is out there) to see what interests me and what the general requirements for these jobs are. I’ve always spent some time looking at graduate programs and Master’s programs. Fellow-Generation Y’ers, let me tell you this: we are spoiled for choice! Our teeth are rotten from all the sweets and treats we can pick and choose from. I do, however, admit that the enjoyment of these sweets depend on the availability of the cash dollas to purchase them (Sweets From Heaven is expensive!). I want to work hard and sacrifice whatever is necessary so that I can obtain my dream job, the piece de resistance of the sweet shop.

I am happy to share that I am on the road towards clarity: I’m starting to narrow down what I’d like to do (or at least what I know I would NOT like to do). So, for your interest (or purposes of procrastination), here is what I’m thinking:

1.)    I’ll definitely need to do a Master’s degree

-          Whether it will be an LLM or an MA, I’m still not sure

-          I’d like to do it in Italy (because pizza and Italian wine, ovias)

-          Doing this Master’s is subject to receiving a bursary (I respect and appreciate all my parents have done thus far to pay for both my sister’s and my education, but the constant rejection from bursary applications is starting be a bit rough, so hopefully I’ll have more luck in Italy)

2.)    I want to work with people, not with papers

-          This means I would like to work in the field (more vague terms for you)

3.)    I want to work in Africa

-          Our continent has immense growth potential, it just needs support

-          This also means I’ll need to start learning French (the lyrics to ‘Lady Marmalade’ will not be sufficient)

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a habit of ‘planning out loud’, so this is the blog version of that. Furthermore, they’ll also tell you that I have a terrible sweet tooth – and damn, I want that piece de resistance, so bad!

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

MONUMENTAL DESTRUCTION

by Nadia Gava
Nadia Gava
For a small girl, Nadia has a big mouth and big opinions. She enjoys the occasio
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 02 July 2015
Reflection 0 Comment

Imagine you’re hiding with your little brother in the shards of what is left of your house. You’re hiding, because you can see soldiers approaching in the distance. Your parents were killed a month ago when they got caught in the crossfire between different troops on their way back home. Imagine losing everyone and everything you ever cherished. Just imagine.

We’ve always loved destruction. Something we love even more than destruction? Commemorating destruction.  Walking through the National Mall in Washington D.C. is not only a visually spectacular journey, but it is emotionally haunting. A large majority of the monuments on the Mall were erected in remembrance of wars fought and lives lost. The cost of erecting and maintaining these monuments runs millions of dollars; let’s not even get into a conversation regarding the cost of the wars themselves. So why does the world erect monuments that cost millions to commemorate the wars they started and to commemorate the deaths they caused? Who are the people that suffer most in war? The innocent, the civilians, the pastors and bakers, the teachers and the students, the parents and the cattle drivers. When will we stop? Do these monuments not force us to learn from our mistakes?

Despite having a post-graduate degree in International Relations, I will never understand the supposedly political and economic (and sometimes even social) reasoning behind war. NOTHING, to my mind, will ever justify war. Ever. OK, bring on the slander – smear me with your name-callings of “earth child”, “hippie”, “blind and naïve tree hugger” – I’m ready for it! I’ll plant my proverbial daisy in your gun any day! I’m that girl in Mean Girls who ‘just wishes we could all get along like we used to in middle school... and wants to bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy...’. Yes, I know I am exaggerating, but let’s be serious: what are the economic, social and environmental consequences of war? I don’t even know how one starts calculating that.

As beautiful as these war monuments may be, imagine a world filled with monuments commemorating improved race relations, the legalisation of gay marriage, the opening of a new centre of education and other true signs of victory for mankind; a world where there is no solemn war monument, because no wars were ever fought. You can’t imagine it, because it is ludicrous. But I’ll never forget, when I was seventeen, my mother said to me, don’t stop imagining, because the day that you do is the day that you die.

Imagine or die.

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

Freedom and Democracy

by Faith Pienaar
Faith Pienaar
Faith Pienaar is qualified winemaker and viticulturist. She is currently pursui
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 02 July 2015
Experience 1 Comment

This past Tuesday the SAWIP team had the privilege of engaging with Vukasin Petrovic and Dr. Robert Herman who have both dedicated their lives as advocates for freedom around the world. Dr. Herman is the Vice- President of Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world. Vukasin is the director of programs in sub-Saharan Africa. They lead a discussion on freedom and democracy and what that means in our current society. In this session, I was particularly interested in how Freedom House as an organization sees the concept of freedom and democracy differently from when they first released their Freedom in the World report 9 years ago. It was interesting to hear that Freedom House not only investigates freedom around the world but is also in constant conversation with governments and civil society about their performance in the annual report. Freedom House compiles many other interesting country specific reports and further investigates aspects such as democratic backsliding and terrorism and whether they are potentially linked to bad governance. The work they do is very detailed and impactful. Our team was very interested in how the organization goes about evaluating freedom, and whether the methodology used is able to truly reflect the freedom and democracy that ordinary civilians experience in a particular country. In case you’re wondering, this is the used when evaluating freedom: (https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world-2014/methodology?gclid=CPvS54XGvMYCFdUUHwodvXsBBA#.VZU73vnF-So)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, here are key take home messages from the evening:

 

“Democracy is not about majority rule, democracy is about protecting minorities”

 

We know from cases around the world, that this is not always true. In some spaces there is a constant tension between the contradictions of preserving minority rights in the reality of majority rule. Our institutions are tasked with deciding under what conditions a majority rule must protect the rights of minorities. At my university, Stellenbosch University, there is a constant speaking out (and rightly so) by those in minority groups (LGBT, differently abled, students of color) to our institution to truly represent them, and their needs. Going back into my immediate learning community after this discussion, I am even more determined in helping to represent minority rights.

 

“True democracy is organic, vibrant and is based on core values”

 

South Africa’s constitutional democracy was born from people who valued just freedom and equality. Despite our current governance and leadership challenges, our democracy remains vibrant. Below is a piece from the preamble of our constitution which describes perfectly the core values of the South African democracy.

 

"We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity." - From the Preamble to the Constitution of South Africa”

 

“South Africa is critical in advancing democracy on the African continent”


Looking at the Freedom Map of 2015. (See here: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world-2015/maps#.VZVhb_nF-So) .It was quite sad to see that only 10 countries on the African continent are free, most of which are in south region of Africa. In focusing in the continual development of South Africa, it is also important that as an example of what I believe is one of the greatest democracies, we have to further advance key democratic values within our neighboring states. It is our responsibility.

 

If there is one feeling that this particular session left me with is a sense of urgency for Africa and an urgency in promoting democracy across the African continent. To transform the purple and yellow unfree and partially free states (you have to see the Freedom Map to understand this)   to green free nations.

0 vote

Focused Leadership

by Kgosietsile Tsintsing
Kgosietsile Tsintsing
Kgosietsile Tsintsing has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 01 July 2015
Experience 1 Comment
I had the pleasure of having of have lunch with one of the co-founders of CrossCountry International, The company where I am currently receiving my work exposure at. Roderick Carmody is one of the founding members of the company that I had the pleasure of sharing time with over lunch. CrossCountrry employs individuals from various countries mainly focusing on South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. I identified key leadership qualities that have contributed to Roderick and the company’s success. He took time out of his busy schedule to have lunch with me and two other employees. Being hundreds of miles away I felt like I was at home, the two employees he had invited were both South African. We were encouraged not to speak about work or the activities in the office. The purpose of the lunch date was for Roderick to get to know each individual on a personal level. As lunch proceeded we all became comfortable around each, which was evident in the development of the conservation amongst us. Our conversation covered a broad range of topics, Roderick began with his life journey. Going round in a circle we shared our life journey up until that present moment. Roderick then shared with us how CrossCrountry was formed and what it took to create a company as a fresh start-up. Listening to each individual’s life journey I was able to identify key attributes that Roderick and his employees shared. Firstly a deep desire and strong conviction to achieve the desired end state. Every achievement has a starting point which being a strong desire. Secondly the value of partnership, rarely does an individual succeed alone. A desire that is fuelled by making a difference for Individuals around you is a key ingredient to success. Thirdly it is dangerous to run with something that has no support from anyone. Finally life is structured in such a way that we all need something from someone else to in order to fulfil our own dreams, in the process of realizing our dreams we must allow other individuals to fulfil their dreams along with us
Tags: Untagged
0 vote

A whole new world

by Jabulile Mpanza
Jabulile Mpanza
Jabulile is currently studying towards a master’s degree in Economic Development
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 01 July 2015
Experience 2 Comments

I recently attended a presentation on ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and its role in youth employment. The session was held at the World Bank Group offices, glorious offices might I add. The presentation formed part of a knowledge platform for sharing good practices, innovations and new research in the field of youth development as it relates to ICT. Additionally, the presentation discussed at great lengths how the youth in African countries was to participate in this global phenomenon and the role that the Bank should play in facilitating this participation.


After getting over the fact that I was sitting in a room full of intelligent, world-change agents, all from various backgrounds, I soon tuned into the discussion. ICT as a job market has grown at such a rapid pace that we will soon find ourselves living in a world where there are more devices/gadgets connected to the internet than there are people (if this is not true already). The exponential advancement of access to data and devices has meant that a whole new job market has evolved, restructuring the manner in which employers relate to workers and workers to fellow colleagues. ‘Virtual’ work has offered a new income potential, however required a different set of skills than those traditionally offered. Opportunities to participate are countless as innovation becomes key to succeed in this space.


The challenges are plenty. Perhaps the most obvious of these challenges is that of accessibility. Those who are ‘disconnected’ are left out of this process. There is therefore a growing need to mobilize connectivity in order to reverse this inequality. Infrastructure development consequently plays an integral role and is an area where organizations such as the World Bank are able to play a role. Another barrier to entry is affordability, which, closely associated with accessibility, limits those in predominately poorer African states. Those without adequate infrastructure or income to connect are marginalized further, creating an even bigger gap between the haves and the have nots.


Leaving this presentation I was restless about the urgent need for the education system in my country to respond to the global economy, through equipping people with the necessary skills to partake in it. Schools should perhaps start thinking about incorporating coding into the curricula, simultaneously addressing the need for such skills and encouraging innovation. It is about creating more than just users of the web, but inventors of new platforms that are able to move the country forward. Tapping into a globally relevant skillset has never been more urgent and the need for leadership to catch up is ever so imperative.


One needs to begin seriously interrogating one’s marketability beyond home country borders, becoming holistically able to deliver oneself to a world where work can be delivered by the click of button.


Reflect.

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

Food for the soul

by Mulanga Sinyosi
Mulanga Sinyosi
Mulanga Sinyosi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Experience 3 Comments
Tags: Untagged
0 vote

The Monday Blues

by Wayde Groep
Wayde Groep
Wayde Groep is currently a BSc Human Life Sciences student at Stellenbosch Unive
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Experience 2 Comments

For most of us, Mondays are the days we dread the most in our week. Everyone is somewhat tired and lack the usual energy they possess. I suppose it is post weekend withdrawal. The chance to rest, explore, spend time with friends and family and just have fun.


My Monday at the office was pretty much the same. But yesterday there was time for a different kind of blues. The team had the opportunity to end the day off at the Westminster Presbyterian Church Monday Blues evening. My knowledge of the history of blues music is extremely limited but I promised myself that I would immerse myself as far as possible into the culture and life that Washington has to offer. If you want to acquaint yourself with the background of this music genre, this link provides a quick overview of its history. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues). The journey to the Church was not to hard to figure out but again it was proof that this city has many hidden gems that are just waiting to be found.


This was an exciting evening filled with loads of fun and laughter. The SAWIP team as is the case with most teams I suppose jumped right in and joined the festivities, dancing away to the sweet sounds being played by the band. I must admit there were quite a few moments where I forgot we in a church. Seeing the team have so much fun, dancing with those who decided to just let loose and break all stereotypes was something really special.


The most special of the evening were definitely the people. Different ages, nationalities and backgrounds all brought together to have a meal and just enjoy something they all really love, Blues music.


It is somewhat true what John Denver once said :


“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”

0 vote

Opportunity and Possibility

by Lehlohonolo Moche
Lehlohonolo Moche
Lehlohonolo is a third year Industrial and Systems Engineering student at the Un
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Reflection 2 Comments
Tags: Untagged
0 vote

Science ...and us (Part 1)

by Mpho Gobuamang
Mpho Gobuamang
Mpho is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology at th
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Reflection 1 Comment
“Does science help?” Humans bare one of the most powerful weapons that out compete our primates and the rest of the species; and that is, the intelligence of our brains. Our brains have made us so powerful that not only are we a danger to most of the species that we share this earth with, but it has also become a danger to ourselves as well. As we evolved into the modern human, science became a great tool to our livelihood; by the mid 17th century scientist were already aware of the fact that we live in a medium of air, like fish live in water. One of these scientists, Francesco Lana envisioned a ship that will be able to float on this medium just as ships float over the sea; he however did not completely believe in his hypothesis evident in his literature, he says: “... God will never suffer this invention to take effect, because of the many consequences which may disturb the Civil Government of men. For who sees not, that no city can be secure against attack, since our ship may at any time be placed directly over it, and descending down may discharge soldiers; the same would happen to private houses, and ships on the sea: for our ship descending out of the air to the sails of sea-ships, it may cut their ropes, yea without descending by casting grapples it may over-set them, kill their men, burn their ships by artificial fireworks and fire-balls; this they may do not only to ships but to great buildings, castles, cities, with such security that they which cast these things down from a height out of gunshot, cannot on the other side be offended by those below.” Given the present, the accuracy of Francesco’s prediction (even though he thought it wouldn’t happen) is striking; he made what seems to be a clear forecast of modern air warfare. It but leaves one in awe to realize the ability of the humans to not only to engineer the complicated design of air-crafts but also the ability to see so deep in to the future based on a calculated guess, a sound scientific prediction of the future, which unfortunately can be dismissed by the thought that “God” won’t let it happen. But what makes science special? And how is it connected to the successful thriving of the human species? Well George Sarton has an answer to that, he pointed out that science complements the brain because of science’s cumulative progress. Skinner (2014) says that “Scientists, whether giants (like Newton) or not, enable those who follow them to begin a little further along. This is not necessarily true elsewhere. Our contemporary writers, artists, and philosophers are not appreciably more effective than those of the golden age of Greece, yet the average high-school student understands much more of nature than the greatest of Greek scientists.” And that is exactly what cumulative progress is, the ability for a generation to pass on what it has learned before it dies so as the next generation can build-on that knowledge, improve it and pass it on to the next generation, and the so the cycle goes on. One should never delve into the deep mysteries of man’s connection to science and come back believing they have uncovered the absolute truth. As much as time is a phenomenon without direction, without an ending and debatably, without the beginning, so is science. And after all, claims of the absolute truth only belong to religion.
1 vote

The fundraising struggle

by Mpho Gobuamang
Mpho Gobuamang
Mpho is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology at th
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Reflection 3 Comments
From 2012, in one way or the other my involvement in various organizations frequently lead me to having to acquire funds, a duty I had believed myself to be rather proficient in accomplishing; little did I know, I have lots to learn. The SAWIP fundraising journey has seen me go through frustration, sadness and disappointment; but also feelings of hope, resilience and the desire to fulfill a goal. At first glance, R7 000 seems like a small amount of money to raise but when you actually begin to strategize a way to accrue this amount you also realize the effort you have to put in. The idea behind my plan was to create a comprehensive protocol that included the sending of emails, making phone calls, then follow-up emails and arranging meetings; when I was able to arrange a meeting I would dress accordingly and try to practice behavioral skills accordingly like to mirror a potential donor’s handshake, to smile, be informed and articulate yourself well. As vital as these are, confirming a donation was always the difficult part. One of the significant learning-curves that I have come across is the importance of the ability to react professionally to those that do not believe that “your cause is not worth it” even when it happens again and again. Respect and a strong will to succeed helps one overlook small hurdles that should only serve to build one’s resilience, to make your pitch stronger for the next potential donor. In an article titled Respect Money, describing how John D. Rockefeller perceived his wealth, it’s mentioned that Rockefeller saw his wealth as a blessing entrusted to him for the betterment of society and felt a religious responsibility to dispose of his money consciously. Though the donors I approached may not be as wealthy, they probably do feel a great deal of ownership towards the funds they set aside for giving. Telling authentic stories humanize SAWIP, a factor that is of great significance but often overlooked. In many situations one may get so immersed in trying to explain what the organization is about and what it does that sometimes it sounds like you are making a business proposal, telling appropriate, authentic stories drives the conversation from the technical to the more personal. This helps the donor realize that their assistance actually touches lives and makes a significant input in the struggle to improving our country. The quest to raising funds got me thinking of the SAWIP board and management, what they go through to secure funds and the amount of stress it must be given the quantity of those funds; this realization made me grow a thicker skin and whenever I heard that irritating two-letter word “NO”, I just moved along to the next potential donor, with an even better pitch. Fundraising requires one to apply many aspects of interpersonal skills, skills that can strongly build one’s emotional intelligence. For this reason and that I want to help with the financial sustainability of SAWIP, I have pledged to myself that I will continue trying to accrue more donations even after the 29th May, I urge anyone reading this to do the same in joining me to make a lasting difference to the South Africa-Washington International Program.
0 vote

The Obama legacy

by Faith Pienaar
Faith Pienaar
Faith Pienaar is qualified winemaker and viticulturist. She is currently pursui
User is currently offline
on Monday, 29 June 2015
Experience 2 Comments

I do not follow US politics closely and consistently enough to give insight on the successes and failures of the Obama administration. Word on the street is that before Fridays Supreme Court announcement on same-sex marriages and Obama’s moving eulogy, the critics were out about whether the Obama administration was a success to the American people.  One thing that I can comment on is how the “Yes we can” campaign of 08 and the current administration is able to successfully  encourage more young people to stay engaged with issues around public policy. President Obama went to where young people spent most of their time, on Facebook and Twitter. He addressed crowds that resonated with many young voices; he lost the blazer and tie, rolled up his shirt sleeves and spoke with and to the American youth.

 

The team was fortune enough to visit the White House and on our visit I was surprised that we were briefed by a group of fairly young and passionate employees of the State.  They couldn’t have been much older than us, mid to late 20's, all with an incredible passion for serving their country and the world.

 

The stories of how they landed in the office were unconventional, one saw a rally on television and decide to stop college for a year and join the campaign team. Another swore not to work for the government and a year later she did. The group of employees and facilitators of our conversation were diverse, each with their own story and reflections on America. Each one, remembered distinctly where they were and how they felt when Barack Obama was announced as the President of the United States. Surprisingly I do too, on my couch in South Africa, watching the news and I subsequently tweeted back in 2009, “Yes we can”. I remember I was so inspired by his victory that I encouraged and lead my high school House community to adopt the “Yes we Can” slogan, and the leaders of our of the Pleiades House dressed up as Michelle Obama. If you don’t believe me, see the picture below.

 

With 81 weeks left of the Obama administration, it was clear that their time as employees of the administration had impacted them in a profound way.

 

How will the world remember the Obama administration of 09 to ’16?

 

To me, his time in office represents incredible leadership that inspired many young people to mobilize and organize themselves around issues to which they hold dear to their hearts. President Barack Obama is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational and connected leaders of our time.

 

I left the White House feeling inspired me to passionately serve my own country.

 

“Yes we can!” My High School House, Pleiades- The white House, who took up the slogan as our own in my matric year in 2010.

0 vote

Blog 8: The Lord of the Rings- Barack Obama and his influence on his nation

by Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo is a lover of all things wonderful; delicious food, great music, fr
User is currently offline
on Monday, 29 June 2015
Experience 2 Comments

I remember sitting with my family in Zimbabwe during the election race which lead to the first ever black president being elected in the United States. Barack Obama inspired me and he inspired the world. Interestingly however, Obama has not simply been a special president because of the color of his skin but instead because of his character. He has inspired the American people and people around the world to strive for greatness and in doing so he has changed the views and opinions of people all over globe forever. 

The mark of a true leader is to be able to inspire people and bring them together at the very moment when chaos threatens to pull them apart. Nelson Mandela did this in 1994 and Barack Obama did this on Friday 26th June 2015 courtesy of ABCnews. 

Here is Barack Obama's eulogy for the late Reverend Clementa Pinckney which he delivered on Friday. His words and his singing speak for themselves. What an incredible man. What an amazing leader.

"This whole week, I've been reflecting on this idea of grace. (Applause.) The grace of the families who lost loved ones. The grace that Reverend Pinckney would preach about in his sermons. The grace described in one of my favorite hymnals -- the one we all know: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. (Applause.) I once was lost, but now I'm found; was blind but now I see. (Applause.)


According to the Christian tradition, grace is not earned. Grace is not merited. It's not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God -- (applause) -- as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Grace.


As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we've been blind. (Applause.) He has given us the chance, where we've been lost, to find our best selves. (Applause.) We may not have earned it, this grace, with our rancor and complacency, and short-sightedness and fear of each other -- but we got it all the same. He gave it to us anyway. He's once more given us grace. But it is up to us now to make the most of it, to receive it with gratitude, and to prove ourselves worthy of this gift.


For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens. (Applause.) It's true, a flag did not cause these murders. But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge -- including Governor Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise -- (applause) -- as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. (Applause.) For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now.


Removing the flag from this state's capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought -- the cause of slavery -- was wrong -- (applause) -- the imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong. (Applause.) It would be one step in an honest accounting of America's history; a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds. It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better, because of the work of so many people of goodwill, people of all races striving to form a more perfect union. By taking down that flag, we express God's grace. (Applause.)


But I don't think God wants us to stop there. (Applause.) For too long, we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career. (Applause.)

Perhaps it causes us to examine what we're doing to cause some of our children to hate. (Applause.) Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal justice system -- (applause) -- and leads us to make sure that that system is not infected with bias; that we embrace changes in how we train and equip our police so that the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve make us all safer and more secure. (Applause.)

Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don't realize it, so that we're guarding against not just racial slurs, but we're also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal. (Applause.) So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote. (Applause.) By recognizing our common humanity by treating every child as important, regardless of the color of their skin or the station into which they were born, and to do what's necessary to make opportunity real for every American -- by doing that, we express God's grace. (Applause.)

For too long --

AUDIENCE: For too long!

THE PRESIDENT: For too long, we've been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation. (Applause.) Sporadically, our eyes are open: When eight of our brothers and sisters are cut down in a church basement, 12 in a movie theater, 26 in an elementary school. But I hope we also see the 30 precious lives cut short by gun violence in this country every single day; the countless more whose lives are forever changed -- the survivors crippled, the children traumatized and fearful every day as they walk to school, the husband who will never feel his wife's warm touch, the entire communities whose grief overflows every time they have to watch what happened to them happen to some other place.

The vast majority of Americans -- the majority of gun owners -- want to do something about this. We see that now. (Applause.) And I'm convinced that by acknowledging the pain and loss of others, even as we respect the traditions and ways of life that make up this beloved country -- by making the moral choice to change, we express God's grace. (Applause.)

We don't earn grace. We're all sinners. We don't deserve it. (Applause.) But God gives it to us anyway. (Applause.) And we choose how to receive it. It's our decision how to honor it.

None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight. Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race. We talk a lot about race. There's no shortcut. And we don't need more talk. (Applause.) None of us should believe that a handful of gun safety measures will prevent every tragedy. It will not. People of goodwill will continue to debate the merits of various policies, as our democracy requires -- this is a big, raucous place, America is. And there are good people on both sides of these debates. Whatever solutions we find will necessarily be incomplete.

But it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. (Applause.) Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual -- that's what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society. (Applause.) To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change -- that's how we lose our way again.

It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by those families if we merely slipped into old habits, whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practiced cynicism.

Reverend Pinckney once said, "Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history -- we haven't always had a deep appreciation of each other's history." (Applause.) What is true in the South is true for America. Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other. That my liberty depends on you being free, too. (Applause.) That history can't be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress, but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past -- how to break the cycle. A roadway toward a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind -- but, more importantly, an open heart.

That's what I've felt this week -- an open heart. That, more than any particular policy or analysis, is what's called upon right now, I think -- what a friend of mine, the writer Marilyn Robinson, calls "that reservoir of goodness, beyond, and of another kind, that we are able to do each other in the ordinary cause of things."

That reservoir of goodness. If we can find that grace, anything is possible. (Applause.) If we can tap that grace, everything can change. (Applause.)

Amazing grace. Amazing grace.

(Begins to sing) -- Amazing grace -- (applause) -- how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I'm found; was blind but now I see. (Applause.)

Clementa Pinckney found that grace.

Cynthia Hurd found that grace.

Susie Jackson found that grace.

Ethel Lance found that grace.

DePayne Middleton-Doctor found that grace.

Tywanza Sanders found that grace.

Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. found that grace.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace.

Myra Thompson found that grace.

Through the example of their lives, they've now passed it on to us. May we find ourselves worthy of that precious and extraordinary gift, as long as our lives endure. May grace now lead them home. May God continue to shed His grace on the United States of America."

 

 

 

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

Perspective

by Ebrahim Shaikh
Ebrahim Shaikh
Ebrahim Shaikh is a Law Student at the University of Cape Town. He spends a larg
User is currently offline
on Monday, 29 June 2015
Experience 1 Comment

In my two weeks that I have spent in the House of Representatives at the United States Congress, I have been afforded a chance like no-other to comparatively evaluate the vastly different nature of politics plays out between the United States and South Africa.

 


Like nearly every state in the world, bar Luxemburg perhaps, Americans and South Africans both voice discontent of their current governments loudly. The difference being that while many middle-class South Africans want to leave the country, Americans of the same class prefer to stay and fight – even if most of the fighting is just hot-air. The patriotism is second-to-none in the U.S and it is something that we as South Africans struggle with. To my mind nationality is an identity and we are yet, as a nation, to forge a unified identity. The problem is not our diversity however; rather it is our reluctance to integrate in a manner beyond the superficial.

 


I don’t know what it is, apart from our disunity that makes us un-patriotic – I always ask myself if we have not psychologically healed from the wounds of the past. I understand that the “Apartheid excuse” is seen as a cliché by most 20-something professionals working in Sandton, said while sipping a Latte during a corporate merger meeting – but sometimes I think that the notion of justice that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) championed was not one that we as a nation were ready for. Any ordinary person views justice through a lens of retribution rather than the Biblical idea of ‘turning the other cheek’ to which the TRC subscribed.

 


I am also not convinced that patriotism will solve our problems, but it will most certainly allow an eager generation of youth to participate in national politics on a scale that we have not witnessed before. The importance of youth participation in politics is incredibly important – I am reminded of this every time I attend a Congressional hearing with fellow interns eager to swap business-cards for some or other purpose.

 


I have hope though, and that’s what counts.

Tags: Untagged
0 vote

Blog 7: My Precious! The brain and its magic

by Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo is a lover of all things wonderful; delicious food, great music, fr
User is currently offline
on Monday, 29 June 2015
Experience 2 Comments

While I might not directly equate my feelings to J. R. R. Tolkien’s character Gollum/Sméagol and his obsession with The Ring, I will say that I have often become unreasonably animated and crazed in my excitement when I think about the brain and its magnificence. The brain is my precious, and every time I learn more about the brain and its wonder I feel like sending Gollum a small text saying “Gollum! I understand you and your crazy obsession! I have a precious too!”.


On Sunday 28th June I was lucky enough to be taken to the Howard Hughes Janelia Research Campus. If ever there was a heaven for neuro-science buzzheads, this would be it. The campus is discretely located within a forest of wonderful lush trees making it invisible to passersby. Stainless steel modern gates mark the entrance of the campus and as you drive deeper into the woods you begin to get small glimpses of a magnificent glass building, whose architecture can only be described as unfathomably beautiful. The building frame is made up of clean, slanting steel lines, which curve gracefully along the length of the building. All of the walls are glass making the building blend in perfectly with its crisp natural surroundings. Inside all you can see is a view of the outside. It is as if you are in a different world, one which is clean and in harmony with the earth. Looking at the building, the structure is one that inspires freedom, independence and creativity. If only all building were designed like this one.

 

It is within this building that some of the world’s most innovative minds are researching intricate structures of the human brain and the neuro-science which enables us to function. From experiments aiming to map out all of the neurons of the fly, to incredible imaging of the brains of fly larvae during their development, this institute is astounding to say the least.

 

Thank you to the eccentric genius Howard Hughes, Janelia architects Rafael Viñoly and Robert H. McGhee and of course to my host mother Lee Schneider and her friend Jennifer Goodnight for making my visit to Janelia possible and for inspiring me and reigniting my passion for neurosurgery and neuroscience!


Pictures of Janelia:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Untagged
0 vote



Facebook Friends of SAWIP