They playfully refer to themselves as Rhodents – and in the spirit of modern abbreviated ‘youth-speak’, they affectionately call Grahamstown ‘G'town’.
They playfully refer to themselves as Rhodents – and in the spirit of modern abbreviated ‘youth-speak’, they affectionately call Grahamstown ‘G'town’. They’re young, busy, active, full of life, often thousands of kilometres away from home – and for ten months of the year infuse the city with the kind of vibrancy, humour, creativity, vitality and spirit that only youth can bring.
They’re Rhodes students – and quite frankly G'town just wouldn’t be the same without them!
For those who live in Grahamstown, the university’s students provide seamless access to young creativity and talent everywhere you turn. October always brings stunning showings for the public to enjoy, of theatre, art, photography, music and documentary film-making – all created by undergraduate and post-graduate students of various Rhodes schools and departments as part of their final exams.
Every month of the year heralds a veritable smorgasbord of seminars, presentations, talks colloquia and workshops, on topics ranging from the seriously scientific to the deeply socio-economic and highly artistic – which anyone can easily access. What a boon to have so much knowledge and creativity on our doorstep – as well as a vast array of Rhodes sports clubs and their facilities, many of whom are open for all to join, at a fraction of the price you'd pay anywhere else.
For Grahamstown residents who enjoy connecting with young people, Rhodes students are most engaging indeed! And there is a very special kind of energy that comes from so many different young people all experiencing immense personal growth within one small town. Rhodes University Dean of Students, Dr Vivian de Klerk believes that the rejuvenating effect that students have on Grahamstown is part and parcel of a very particular outward focus that’s actively encouraged in students by Rhodes.
For de Klerk, it’s vital for students who live in university residences not to get caught up in what she calls the ‘campus bubble’ – but to actively engage with Grahamstown and its surrounds. She believes that Grahamstown offers the privilege of seeing a unique microcosm of all of South Africa up close and personally – something that students in a vast metropolis wouldn’t often experience – while being able to make a real difference to this context through the residences’ strong community outreach programmes.
At the same time, Oppidan students – those who live off campus – are strongly encouraged to practice good neighbourliness and to be responsible citizens of the town, who are subject to, and abide by, the by-laws. Yes, sometimes youthful exuberance does bubble over a little, but as most residents will tell you, this is largely the exception, not the rule. In G'town, families and freedom-loving students have happily co-existed side by side for decades.
Ultimately, for Grahamstown as a whole, the impact that Rhodents have is much greater than the financial infusion that their spending brings to the city. And it is far more about italjoi de vivre/ital and the bliss of shared learning, growth and caring than anything else.