TTS22 Group photo

Friday, September 27, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up?

(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 hopeful.

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!


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, Ariela. As I read it, I felt as though I was right there with you, walking to the school, visiting with the students, and hoping the best for their futue. Thank you!