On Wednesday February 17th Ann and I visited UWC. We had lunch with CapeEinstein Foundation Board Director Prof Miki Flokemann and toured the campus. While there we met with a student we sponsored from Ravensmead High, Evannay Kettledas. Evannay is in her second year studying Accounting and seems well adjusted at UWC. She commutes from her home in the nearby Cape Flats area. She lived on campus for a term, but the high cost of room and board moved her back home.
On campus the atmosphere is similar to what you’d expect at a US College Campus with people involved in a myriad of school studies, athletic events, protests of one kind or another, music, frolicking in the expansive mall and kibitzing in the student center over coffee. Since this was the first week of school there was a lot of activity registering for classes with lines formed at the registrar’s office. But one interesting thing happened. There was a small group which turned into a larger group which began shouting over a megaphone in Afrikans. Miki indicated that it was a political group, perhaps an offshoot of the group last year that shut down the campus over school fee protests. We kept our distance, but soon security officers arrived and cordoned off areas near the entrance to the student center…while it was loud, it was peaceful.
We then visited Dr. Sharon Penderis, Acting Director, Institute for Social Development. Our goal was to discuss our current initiative in South Africa focused on assisting learners in grades 9-12 and gather her thoughts on other initiatives in SA. She seemed pleased with what the organization had accomplished to date, but was surprised that she had never heard of the Cape Einstein’s. I explained that it was not a large organization with at max 50 learners. She thought we should do more marketing it to gain the attention of other groups, NGO’s, etc.. that could provide assistance or be allies in our efforts. One idea was to write an article for publication in the UWC Magazine. She thought that an article with pictures and some information on kids who came through the program and are now at UWC or Alum, might be a great idea. We have passed that on to one of Florance’s admins for action. Sharon also thought that it might be good to have Florance speak to a group of her students next term. We will arrange that. In addition, I was invited to address exchange students from the US, my alma mater Marquette, next term as well. Dr. Penderis also offered some of her students as volunteers[they need community service hours] to support our efforts…that was a big win…we will never say no to free help!!!We discussed her thoughts on the program size and she felt that the size was fine, explaining that even one success story breeds others and each in effect were force multipliers. All in all a good visit with good information passed on to Florance and the directors. We hope to return before we leave to speak to Marquette’s director of the study abroad program in South Africa, Melikaya Ntshingwa.