Learning From Each Other

We recently interviewed one of our awesome previous Educentre tutors Nevenka and the friendship she built with learner Namgamzo as they continue to study at the University of Cape Town at the same time!

  1. What is your age

39

  1. Where and what did you study?

My very first degree was in Journalism and Philosophy at Rhodes University.

I then went back to the University of Cape Town (UCT) to study law in my thirties.

  1. Where do you work and what work do you currently do?

After completing my Masters in Philosophy at Rhodes I travelled to Japan and taught English in Osaka at a Japanese high school. I had intended this adventure to last only one year, but I ended up living there for five years as I was so happy in Japan!

When I returned to South Africa, I started working as a conference producer on IT, renewable energy, water and ports and maritime conferences. Although I loved the extensive travelling this career offered me, I was looking for something that was more intellectually fulfilling.

I then returned to university to study for an LLB while working part-time as a conference producer. I completed my LLB degree in 2018, did pupillage at the Cape Bar during 2019, and was admitted as an advocate in 2020.

I currently practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar.

  1. What inspired you to become a volunteer tutor at Sozo Educentre?

While I was a conference producer, I headed up the social corporate responsibility team at my company where we engaged with SOZO Boutique as a community team building initiative. I was so impressed with the SOZO team that when I heard about SOZO Education, I decided to volunteer my time and put my teaching skills to use.

  1. How long were you a tutor at Sozo Educentre?

About three years. Unfortunately, when I went back to law school, I had to work part-time as a conference producer and no longer had any spare time to volunteer.

  1. How many days a week did you tutor at Sozo Educentre?

Twice a month on every second Saturday morning.

  1. What did you enjoy most about being a tutor?

I do not have my own children and I enjoyed the connection with younger people. I have always loved teaching and it was a deeply rewarding experience to impart skills and motivate the students to love the subjects I have always so enjoyed (Mathematics, English and History).

  1. Why is volunteering important to you?

Coming from a background of privilege, I believe it is important to pay it forward. As someone who has always loved learning, I see education as the best means to equalise and transform our society.

  1. What did you find most difficult about being a tutor?

Being confronted with the harsh realities of the students and learning about the many barriers and challenges they face daily.

  1. How did you manage to stay committed to volunteering for so long?

Because I only tutored twice a month, the commitment never felt overwhelming or burdensome. It remained an enjoyable and positive activity for me.

  1. Did you ever think you would have the impact that you have had on the lives of learners in the programme?

I am not sure exactly how much of an impact I had on the students. But I do know how much of an impact the students had on me. The students gave me hope for the future of our country – despite their limited situations filled with immense barriers, I was always amazed with the energy and creativity the students exuded.

  1. Please tell us about your journey as a mentor to Nangamso Melamane.

I met Nangamso when I started tutoring at Sozo. Immediately, I recognised that she was a gifted student who had immense potential – both in terms of her academic and leadership skills. She wrote incredibly well and I was impressed with how she tutored her peers and how everyone looked up to her. We formed a friendship over the years.

Through true grit and dedication, Nangamso was accepted at UCT to study for a degree in sociology and psychology. It just so happened that we were both starting our UCT adventures at the same time (2016) – she was just out of high school and I was in my mid-thirties! We would meet every few weeks on campus to check-in with each other and share our experiences.

This year, not only did Nangamso get accepted in the LLB programme at UCT, but she was awarded a full scholarship from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. I know that Nangamso has the attributes to become an exceptional legal practitioner, and I always say to her “you are going to become the Public Protector” one day. I do hope she proves me right!