The End of the Year means goodbyes aplenty – The Senior Schools team in particular have to say cheers to our paragons who’ve been with us since early February. The paragons are young men selected from a gap year programme called ‘Jump Start’, which is run by Jabulani (one of our neighboring NGOs). They help us on our afternoon visits to the high schools, taking charge of the study groups and helping tutor the learners.
I met with Zukile Luzipho, Dumza Dudumayo and Sihle Mdaniswa, 3 out of our 6 paragons for 2018 to reminisce about the year and talk about their futures.
Both Zukile and Sihle worked with me as English paragons while Dumza worked with Clare Acheson as a Maths paragon.
from left to right: Sihle, Dumza, Zukile
Q) What was your favourite part of being a paragon?
Sihle: Being a paragon helped to keep me working and busy so I did not forget everything from matric.
(Some of the paragons, like Sihle, rewrite matric to improve their grades during their gap year)
Zukile: I think I like to work with people and I enjoy helping others. So that was my favourite part. It wasn’t always easy; in the beginning I was nervous in front of the class but I enjoyed it.
Dumza: For me the best thing was seeing what it is like to work, the work experience was great. Also it was nice to get the chance to help students and to know that you can change their marks if you help them. I also enjoyed the traveling.
Q) What’s the worst part of being a paragon?
Zukile: I hated the jobs we got given around the office when Study Groups were canceled. Jobs such as taking the recycling or covering books. That’s not fun. People would say “paragons must do this, paragons must do that.’
Dumza: I hated attending classes at Ekukhuleni. During the week I felt like a leader at Study Groups but on Saturday’s it felt like I was a student all over again.
Sihle: I hated when we travelled all the way to a school and then we arrived and there were no students.
Q) Who works the hardest out of all the paragons?
Dumza: Lihle– he would work hard even when we had to stay in the office.
(Lihle Qasumoya was a science paragon who worked closely with Anthony Fry. He really grew and developed as a paragon and a leader)
Zukile: I don’t know because we are all doing different things…. But maybe I think I do work the most! I worked as both a Maths and English paragon so I had to learn the most.
(Zuko Sogoni was a great help at both Study Groups and Ekukhuleni. Clare Acheson was particularly grateful for all of his contributions)
Q) Who works the least?
Zukile: (laughing) I think it’s you, David.
Dumza: (points at Sihle)
Sihle: (points back at Dumza)
Sihle, Lihle, Dumza, Zuko and Akhona - very busy in the office
Q) What was the best song we listened to in the van?
Zukile: Nomakanjani, by Brenda Fasie.
Dumza: Ya same, same. That’s the best song.
Sihle: Definitely Nomakanjani.
Q) What was the funniest thing that happened at study groups?
Dumza: We were leaving Upper Mpako and Sandi was not yet properly in the car and Nomsa started to drive off – Sandi shouted at her. It was quite funny. Luckily nothing happened.
Zukile: David you made me laugh because when we are just the English team in the car we planned together. You didn’t just tell us what to do – that was funny.
Sihle: The English team saved the best songs for when it was just us in the car. Then we jammed together.
(I have the fondest memories of these times together and I now know almost every Brenda Fasie hit)
Q) Will you miss anything about being a paragon?
Zukile: I like to see the students working hard and I like the challenge when they ask me questions.
Sihle: I will miss the fun of it and going all the way to Tyelenzima.
(Tyelenzima was the longest drive we did. It takes just under an hour to get there from Zithulele)
Dumza: I will miss being a part of it because it created a lot of friendship with students and with the Axium team.
Q) What are your plans for next year?
Zukile: I have been studying for the last six months – for a diploma in HR. I want to go into business. Hopefully next year I can go back to continue my course but it depends on NSFAS – sometimes they promise you money but they do not send it, or they pay for your school fees but do not pay you for rent and food, so it is very difficult but ya, hopefully I will go back in January.
Dumza: I am going to Rhodes to study a BA majoring in drama and computer science.
Sihle: I am hoping to study nursing at the University of the Free State. Hopefully it works out.
Q) Where do you see yourself in five years?
Zukile; I see myself as having a job, getting a salary, having a car and a family.
Dumza: I want to finish my degree and to hopefully find my passion. I want to live an adventurous life and having enough to make that possible.
Sihle: In five years I think I want to be studying a second degree.
While we're terribly sad to be loosing them it's also very exciting that these young men are off to grow themselves next year. We thank them for their help and their enthusiasm as well as all the laughs that they've brought us.
We'll miss them nomakanjani (no matter what)
Zukile, myself and Sihle - about to blast 'Nomakanjani' at full volume on our way to school