Die Burger Youth Leaders’ Conference

BY Sinovuyo Madlavu

The role of the youth in building an inclusive society – this was the theme of this phenomenal conference. It all began on Friday, 8 December with a meet and greet of all the other young head leaders from the various schools across the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.
After familiarising ourselves with each other, we were introduced to Mr. Schreuder, the head of the Western Cape Education Department, and our co-ordinator for the duration of the week. The conference was officially opened by Prof. Nico Koopman, the Vice-Rector of Stellenbosch University.
Our second day was one of sight-seeing. We visited the Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront and watched South Africa demolish Russia (40 – 5) in the sevens rugby.
On the following day, we visited the Groote Kerk, were we learnt more about the history of the church. This was followed by an art appreciation session delivered by Ms Louw from the Western Cape Education Department.
The conference officially kicked off on Monday, 11 December, with speeches from group 1, on the topic: the role of the youth in building an inclusive society through education. The group was followed by guest speaker, Prof. Johnothan Jansen, who left us with the following words: “We are all human, before we are different races and cultures” and this is the key to building an inclusive future for us all.
After Prof. Jansen’s captivating talk, we were off to Stellenbosch University. Upon arrival, we were introduced to and had the opportunity to interact with the Rector, Prof. Wim de Villiers. To end our day off, Stellenbosch University treated us to dinner at Beyerskloof Wynplaas, where we were accompanied by many members of the university’s staff.
Group 2 delivered their speeches the following day on the topic: Building an inclusive society through socio-economic development. They were followed by Dr Braam Hanekom who raised the importance of hope in building an inclusive society, because, in his words: “poverty is not a lack of food or clothing; it’s a lack of hope.”
After the speeches we had the opportunity to visit The Cape Town Heart Museum. Here we got a deep dive into Dr Christiaan Barnard, not only as a doctor but as a person – his family, life and character. We also had the privilege of sitting in the exact room where the world’s first ever successful heart transplant was carried out. It was truly an amazing experience and the life-sized replicas of the doctors and patients made it even more so.
To end the day with some entertainment, we organised a house concert for all to enjoy the hidden talents that many of our fellow youth leaders possessed. The performances ranged from violinists to monologues to dancers and even boy bands performing Abba songs. This was definitely one of the greatest highlights of the week!
The last group finally delivered their speeches on “The role of the youth in building an inclusive society by building the economy.” And our final guest speaker was Mr Edmund Jeneker. With this being our last full day, it ended with a closing dinner at Kelvin Grove, where we each received honorary certificates. To mark the end of our time together, we had a sokkie and games night that lasted all night.
The last day was a sad one as we had to bid farewell to all the new friends we had just made.
When I first arrived, I didn’t think that the conference would be suitable for me as it was entirely in Afrikaans, as were majority of the other youth leaders. But as it turns out, this didn’t prove to be a problem at all and I must say that my Afrikaans vocabulary has increased extensively, thanks to my fellow youth leaders. This just goes to show that “barriers” like language and race aren’t really barriers at all, because we are all human before we are anything else.

 January 12, 2018
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Sinovuyo Madlavu

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