By TRISTAN COOKE
Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) hosted its annual award ceremony on Tuesday 12th October 2021. The second virtual award ceremony, in as many years, praised the hard work of student volunteers, community partners, staff and donors.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Student Affairs, Dr’ Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela welcomed all the attendees and said: “Tonight we are reminded that in every crisis, there is a silver lining, that at times, sweet are the gains accrued from a crisis, and these, we have witnessed in the courage, resilience and personal development in our students and our community. Tonight – we celebrate just that.”
She reminded the audience why it is crucial for Rhodes University to be community-engaged. “Rhodes University is not only geographically located in the city of Makhanda, but we are also an integral part of this city. We belong to the city; we are of and for this city. We have a social responsibility to develop strong and authentic community-university partnerships, to deal with the challenges we face at the local level,” she added.
RUCE director, Di Hornby, provided highlights and a summary of the 2021 year. “Winston Churchill was credited with saying, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’. What is inspiring about Churchill’s quote is that it causes you to look for the positive and seek opportunities where they might not have been before. I am happy to report that the RUCE team did just that and found innovative ways to reimagine spaces, always looking for opportunities while working hard to keep channels of communication going with community partners and student volunteers,” she said.
Reminiscing about the good stories to tell about the year 2021, Hornby said, “One of the biggest highlights of 2021 was hearing that the Nine Tenths Matric Mentoring programme had been recognised in the coveted Talloires Network MacJannet Award for Global Citizenship, where the programme won first prize.
“The Talloires Network is a global CE forum with over 388 universities in 77 countries on six continents. We are the first South African university to claim a First Prize, and it was indeed a great honour.”
Incumbent Community Engagement Student Representative Councilor Lukhanyiso Cezula was MC for the ceremony and steered the evening with composure and nous. The winners were:
- Community partner of the year: Amakhala foundation
- Hall of the year: Jan Smuts hall
- Student researcher of the year: Catherine Parkinson
- Student volunteer of the year: Luyanda Hadebe
Hadebe said she was in disbelief that she was chosen as a student volunteer of the year, but her family and friends keep congratulating her, saying that she deserved it.
She has been part of RUCE since her first year in 2017, and she said it had been part of her life. “I was overwhelmed with emotions when I received the award because when I reflect, community engagement has contributed so much to who I am as a person and what I want in life.
“My focus in RUCE was education because I tutored and mentored, which led me to decide on going into education; hence, I’m doing my PGCE now. I’m honestly grateful for the amazing opportunities that RUCE has given me and the support that I received from them, especially Anna, who was more like an older sister to me,” she said.
Hadebe hails from Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, studied Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Economics and Information Systems and is currently doing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education.