The beginning of a decade
The year is 2008. I have to make a life changing decision that could turn my entire life upside down.
I made it into the African Leadership Academy (ALA) after a grilling finalist weekend. ALA is a pan-African institution that aims to develop the next generation of African Leaders – sounds great, right? I would go on to become part of the inaugural class, the first graduates the institution would produce. Scary too, right?
The predicament I faced was that I was incredibly happy at my current school at the time – Krugersdorp High School (KHS). I was a highly active scholar. Every extra-mural activity I could do – I did, while successfully balancing my academic work. I was an RCL (Representative Council of Learners), played A-team netball, was a library monitor, was in Operetta, Drama and Helping Hands etc.
Leaving KHS in grade 10 meant that I would leave everything I built and loved whole-heartedly. I had until Bonding Camp to make the decision of whether I leave KHS or stayed. There was no stone unturned to ensure that my decision was not limited to my parents’ financial strain.
My options were limited
My mom encouraged me to apply to ALA, yet she was sceptical about me leaving KHS. KHS did not want me to leave either, so my mom suggested they give me an academic scholarship. At the time, KHS only gave the Top 3 academics in each grade a scholarship, I was number 5. The only offer KHS would be able to make at the time was a hostel bursary. This did not make financial sense for my parents because my house was 15 minutes away from school. My brother had just joined me at KHS that year and the fees weren’t necessarily affordable for my parents.
I know my parents were barely coping financially at the time, but I needed more convincing to go to ALA. I went to go see one of my favourite teachers, Mrs. Delport. She taught me mathematics. Every now and then I would pop into her classroom during break for a quick chat. She gave me advice that I still treasure today, 10 years later:
“Go. This could be a life changing decision and you will not know if you do not go. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to meet new people. I think it’s a risk worth taking.”
It’s time to leave
I took those words and ran with them. Grade 10 Bonding Camp would be the last time I get to see and interact with my grade. I was sad, but more excited than ever to start a new journey. We went to Bonding Camp which was ironic since I was leaving. I started reminiscing about my fondest memories at KHS the whole way back from camp with tears in my eyes. When we got to school, I was uncontrollable. It was then time for me to say goodbye to all my wonderful teachers and friends to start a new journey at ALA.
Dear Mrs Delport.
It’s been years since I last saw your beautiful smile that lights up your eyes through your spectacles. The last time I saw you, you helped me make a decision that would change my life forever in the year 2008.
I am writing this letter to thank you for encouraging me to take a leap of faith. Leaving KHS was one of the bravest decisions I have ever made, and you played a great part in it. Coming to see you for advice always made so much sense. Out of all the advice I received to go to ALA, your words stuck with me the most. Falling in love with mathematics was so easy with passionate teachers like you. Not only were you a fantastic teacher of the subject, but you were an amazing teacher of life.
I hope that by reading this letter, you will be reminded that there are many lives that you have touched. And although this is not much, I hope it puts a smile on your face.