By Nadine Moodie (SAWIP Alumnus 2009)
SAWIP Class of 2012
There’s always a cool vibe at the SAWIP graduation and this year was no exception. Alumni, board members, parents and friends of SAWIP came from near and far to share in the achievement of the graduating class. This year the event was held at the foot of Table Mountain at Moyo Restaurant, Kirstenbosch Gardens on Friday, 21 September.
For some this is an occasion to reminisce about their SAWIP experiences, for others it’s a time to share stories about their time in the USA. But mostly, it’s a time to meet the graduating class and to celebrate their success in completing the rigorous SAWIP course.
Edyth Parker (SAWIP Class of 2012) giving her speech
Guests were treated to a scrumptious meal, stimulating speeches and conversations about the class, the course, their trip to the US, their work placements, community service, and the lifelong friendships that were formed along the way.
Saif Islam, member of the Class of 2012, addressed the guests on behalf of the class where he told his story of SAWIP and what the opportunity in the course meant to him. He highlighted how people always ask him about his most memorable experience of the journey, to which he always replies, “I tell them that it was not meeting influential people, going to Washington DC, or visiting the United Nations. Those were once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I will always cherish. But to me the greatest experience was being in a group of 15 extraordinary young people, and learning from one another.”
SAWIP 2011 Alumni Thembi Losi, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and Irene Kim
Sally Currin with Allister and Jenny Rogan of the Graham & Rhona Beck Foundation
Another member of the2012 class, Edyth Parker spoke about the three part community service programme that the inspirational class embarked upon in Bishop Lavis, a needy community near Cape Town. “We decided to refurbish the library of Marian Roman Catholic High School, as well as hosting skills development workshops and an educational forum on government accountability measures.”
She emphasised that SAWIP does not only focus on leadership and meeting high profile people, but has an even greater focus on service and walking the inspirational talk that is so often received from those encountered during the SAWIP experience.
Even though the main focus of the evening was on the Class of 2012, guests were reminded about the need for responsible leadership and service that South Africans have been calling for. Alumni Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and Erik de Ridder (Class of 2011) briefly spoke about their democracy campaign that they recently launched to remind citizens about their rights.
Before the end of the evening the class awarded informal awards to each other and shared some personal stories of humorous situations that made them become a family, and not just a group of students from South Africa in Washington, DC.
It is events like these that make one realise that there is a hope for a better tomorrow in South Africa and that with the right mentorship, encouragement and coaching, young South Africans truly will make a difference.