My name is Andisiwe Sipamla. I am based in Gauteng and am currently pursuing my articles at Bowman Gilfilllan Inc.
As a gold Grad – what did you enjoy most about the programme?
First, the programme facilitated a safe and free space within which peer educators as a collective could engage on various issues affecting us as teenagers without the fear of being judged, rejected and/or feeling prejudiced against. I was fascinated by the subject matter we engaged in. It was not just topical, cutting edge at the time and sometimes uncomfortable topics to engage with, but in my opinion, matters of interest that young blacks particularly from disadvantaged communities ought to be engaging in.
Second, The program illuminated issues our communities are faced with, issues that one may regard as neutral at face value; however, when one starts digging deeper through engaging with other peers he/she comes to a realisation that the issue has a significant adverse impact on the society and constitutes a hindrance to social cohesion.
Last, I enjoyed the occasional presentations we did as peer educators. It is through these that I developed public speaking skills, learned how to articulate ideas with clarity and conciseness.
Can you share a specific example? (One day…)
I cannot recall the event very clearly, but we had a session on what it means to be African. For an icebreaker each one of the peer educators had to recite his/her clan praises. It was fascinating to have attended that session. It is riveting to watch people singing their praises with so much pride and boldness. Further to that, we had stated what it is that makes us African. From that session I realized that each and every one of us attributed different meaning and values to what being African means to them and ultimately expanding the rather imposed or suggested definition of what it means to be African at the same time breaking the stereotypes that the millennials are not in touch with their Africanness and/or are not proud of it.
After you completed high school, what did you pursue?
I pursued studies of law by enrolling for LLB at the University of the Western Cape.
What were some of the challenges?
Biggest challenge was the emotional strain of not having enough support structure in terms of not having parents to support me or re-assure me that everything is going to be fine and having to be strong even when I did not wish to. Having to learn how to navigate different spaces, with people from different backgrounds and to having to learn how to assert myself in such spaces without being offensive to others. Having to learn how to balance my studies with my social life.
What were some of the successes?
I completed LLB within minimum time and with summa cum laude. I am part of the Canon Collins Alumni. Most noteworthy however is that through all the adversity I encountered, I might not have conquered all or turned each into an opportunity, but I still rise and continue to dream.
Looking back, how did gold prepare you for the challenges or achieve the success you have worked hard for?
Being a peer educator taught me self-reliance, it taught me the skill of decision-making and how to prioritize. Because it is a space of engagement, it taught me how to navigate different spaces, spaces that might not be comfortable and still thrive those. It taught me the skill of fostering relationships with peers and how to co-exist peacefully with them.
Where to from here?
Life is a journey and I don’t wish to limit myself by having definite plan as to what I am going to do next. However, from here going forward it’s all about self-actualisation, self-exploration, more self-reliance, equipping myself with knowledge and development.
In one sentence – Is there anything that you would like to share with your peers and as well as peer educators? Is there anything more you would like to add?
I would firmly encourage my peers to pursue their dreams. One should refrain from living according to what society expects, but should pursue what gives him/her self-fulfillment and makes him/her feel alive. Be your own experiment; embrace the values that make you you and set you apart from the rest, embrace your individuality.
In what conquest you take, plan and execute. Be resilient, be patient and don’t be too harsh on yourself.