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Weslynne Van Neel 20 years old from Delft
Weslynne had worked for a while but had been unemployed for a few months.
She applied for Year Beyond because “ I have a passion for kids and I love helping others…this was a perfect platform for me to start my career as I want to be a high school teacher.” Weslynne was “excited and nervous at the same time.”
She really enjoyed working “with my fellow volunteers at a high school in Delft with learners that really needed help.” Volunteering taught her that “just doing a small thing can make a big difference to someone else’s life even if we might not notice it. Everyone is special and unique in their own way.”
Through the self-development course she enjoyed “doing art and speaking through art and not saying it out loud. I never knew I’m that good at art. The training has also helped me listen without interrupting. One day a learner came to speak to me about her problems that she’s facing at home. I was able to just listen and I understood the importance of just listening to others and not interrupting.” Weslynne wants “to study B. Ed and the volunteering experience has helped me gain experience with working with kids and also it has opened my eyes to see that I am really passionate about working with kids and helping others.”
Weslynne’s advice to anyone thinking about joining Year Beyond:
“Join the programme, you won’t regret it. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Wendy Kondlo, 19 years old from Gugulethu
Wendy had just completed matric and decided to take a gap year and upgrade her marks. “I wanted to avoid being at home and wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something that would keep my mind going. I was interested in tutoring and studying and Year Beyond offered me that and more.”
Initially Wendy was nervous and was not sure she was doing the right thing. She was placed at I. D. Mkize High School in her community, Gugulethu, and soon discovered that she loved working with learners who were facing the same challenges she faced in her high school life. She learned “That one can make a difference where they can, with who they are and what they have.”
Through the self-development and leadership curriculum Wendy discovered “Who I am and who I want to be in the world.” She learned that “There is more in the world than what we are led to see by poverty.” And that “Professionally I have skills!”
Wendy plans to keep making a difference and “go pursue my dreams. I will be studying next year and working towards getting my degree.”
Wendy advises anyone thinking of joining Year Beyond:
“Go for it. Here’s to a year (and a life) of being a change agent and some mind-blowing experiences. The friends that I have made will go Beyond this Year. The relationships I have built are stronger than ever.”
Thando Mpongwana, 20 years old from Khayelitsha
“I was studying, but I had chosen the wrong course. I heard about Year Beyond from a friend and saw the chance to give back to my community. I applied and luckily I was accepted. At the beginning I was nervous and excited at the same time as I didn’t know what to expect. The tutoring was not that easy, but I enjoyed it each and every time.”
Thando’s highlight from the self-development aspect of Year Beyond was “releasing stress through talking.” The self-defence sessions also really helped him because he found himself in a situation “in Hanover Park where I recognised that the guys were going into a formation and I was about to be mugged. Because I saw that I was able to get away.”
Thando has experienced an increase in self-confidence and his biggest lesson from this year is “that the only way we can live is if we grow and the only way we can grow is if we change. The only way we can change is if we learn and the only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out in the open.”
Thando says his time at Year Beyond has shown him what he wants to do and he is ready now to study again. He wants to be an electrical engineer.
His advice to anyone thinking of joining Year Beyond:
“Go for it. The benefits of this programme are too good to be missed.”
Constance Sinyegwe, 22 years old, Milnerton (Originally from Venda)
Constance joined Year Beyond because she was an unemployed graduate. “I had just completed by BSc degree at University of Limpopo and had come to stay with my aunt in Milnerton. I applied because I didn’t find a job and I wanted to do something different.”
Constance said she was nervous at first but enjoyed it, especially working with learners from different communities and cultures. She foud the self-defence training very useful and learned how to avoid incidents. Her biggest lesson was learning to work in a group which was something she felt she had not been good at. She says she has gained skills in administration, leadership and presentation.
She discovered to her surprise that she has a passion for working with learners and is keen to register for a post-graduate teaching degree with UNISA next year.
Constance advises anyone thinking of joining YeBo:
“You have to take up this opportunity – you will never regret being part of this programme.”