Since the South Africa-Washington International Program’s inception our alumni have formed a close community committed to the ideals of the organisation. Many of the alumni have gone on to innovate, tackle the challenges of their communities and to take up prominent roles as thought leaders and citizens. At our 10th Anniversary Celebration, alumni recognised those who had been exceptional in supporting active citizenship, supporting community development and engagements and supporting SAWIP. Through a process of a nominations, several members of the community were recognised for their role and through a process of voting the most exceptional were recognised. The community recognised four alumni, with three awards.

Banele Lukhele was recognised for her outstanding contribution to Community Development. Banele has developed alternative teaching and learning solutions for mathematics and English students using the arts. This type of learning puts emphasis on skills development including critical thinking analytical thinking as well as problem solving and communication. She has been involved in teacher training and has put together workshops both here in South Africa as well as abroad focused on teaching and learning approaches. She also has a footprint in both corporate and NGO spaces where she uses her learning methods to support curriculum outcomes and to spark dialogue on important social issues.

Rekgotsofetse Chikane was recognised for his outstanding contribution to Citizenship. Kgotsi has been involved in youth development for the past four years. He is currently the national president of InkuluFreeHeid. He has worked on youth-focused policy development at both a national and regional level and continues to host active citizenship workshops. He is recognised by his peers as having provided bold leadership during #FeesMustFall. His engagements opened up new avenues for dialogue in civil society and his passion for the cause, even to his own detriment, sets a powerful example to us all.

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh was recognised for his outstanding contribution to citizenship. Sizwe is an author, musician and activist he has recently published his debut book, Democracy and Delusion: 10 Myths in South African Politics. Along with the book, he released his debut rap album, also titled Democracy and Delusion. Sizwe is the co-founder of InkuluFreeHeid, a non-partisan initiative to encourage active and engaged citizenship amongst South Africa’s youth. He has used his art and writing to encourage discourse on politics and was an active member of the #RhodesMustFall movement at Oxford University.

Chéri-Leigh Erasmus was recognised for her outstanding contribution to SAWIP. Chéri-Leigh currently serves as the SAWIP Executive Director in Washington, DC. She has been instrumental in cultivating a distinct culture of excellence within the program and continues to make a great impact in enhancing the program. The skills and experience that she has acquired are evident in the quality of work that make the program so exceptional. Her passion for SAWIP is tangible. She does her work in such a way that it makes people come alive for the cause of developing young leaders. She has been so dedicated to the team in her service and is an embodiment of what a SAWIP alumna should be.

We congratulate these alumni and encourage them to continue in their work. They are an inspiration to other alumni and their fellow South Africans.