Today, at the ACJ school at the center of the Nomzamo township, I had a very memorable chat with a 4th grade girl. Her favorite subject in school was math, she could speak three different languages (Xhosa and English are taught in school and another that her mother spoke), and she wanted to be a minister of a big organization when she grew up.
During the lectures my team and I gave about setting and achieving goals, she first astounded me by her advanced level of fluency in English. Secondly, because of her inspiring curiosity, compassion and perspective on life. When I asked her how she plans to accomplish her dreams, she said to me simply, “Hard work! That’s the only way!”
Finally, she did not let the lessons stop by what I was able to teach her — she took it upon herself to teach me something, too. When I told her I had no idea how to speak Xhosa, she began feeding me new words like “apile” for apple and helped me practice (while masking her giggles when I absolutely butchered the pronunciation).
Her wild ambition, like the glistening ACJ school in the midst of serious poverty, instilled in me a deep sense of hope and excitement for the future of those children and the South African community at large. The children that bounced through the walls of the ACJ school, teeming with excitement to learn and experience are truly the future and that future looks strikingly bright.