(Travel Journalism Student Post)
"I don't know yet,” Juliana replied to a group of seven students. Suddenly,
they broke out into laughter and gasped.
“They were all so sure of their professions, and I'm just not,” said
Juliana. Among her group, all knew exactly what they wanted to be, with
professions ranging from nurses, social workers, teachers, doctors, graphic
designers, and rappers.
Juliana's interaction took place last Friday at Imvenza School in Waterval
Boven, South Africa, marking the girls' second school visit.
The ten-minute walk from the hostel to the school revealed more information
about the economic system within Waterval Boven. “There was garbage
everywhere, and many of the houses were made from scraps of metal with rocks to
hold down the roofs. There were rusted fences, and I could tell many of the
households had little income,” said Peri.
After arriving at the school, the girls waited outside the locked gate until
granted access to enter. They did not know what to expect-- what would the students
be like? What would they talk about? Would they have things in common? The
girls separated into groups assigned to different classrooms. The girls
soon enough found that the township proved to be in no way a representation of
the atmosphere within the school, where the students were highly optimistic and
Topics ranged from sports, boyfriends, and music, to favorite school subjects
and college. Molly was most intrigued by what her group of teenagers felt
toward their education. “I asked them if there were any teachers they disliked,
and they said, 'No, because we're so happy to be at this school and getting an
education.' It made me realize how fortunate I am to be in school.”
Waterval Boven is a coal mining town, where a majority of its residents
work in the mines. Despite the students' high aspirations for pursuing college
and a profession, it made the TTS girls wonder how many would end up working
there. “I have the highest hopes for them,” said Lindsay, “but I know that
it'll be tough for them, considering the limited resources they have.” These
limited resources, as all the girls noticed in their classroom visits, were the
absence of books, textbooks, posters on the walls, and a computer for the
teacher, with crammed desks, limited space, and inadequate lighting. “It just
makes me appreciate my education much more,” Anna said.
As the girls left the school after much picture-taking and hugging, they
were glad to have connected with the local students, only if for a short while.
Perhaps now the only way to see if the students' professional ambitions live up
to the future is to return in twenty years, and see for ourselves!