Community Engagement AwardsDate Released: Fri, 26 October 2012 10:08 +0200
A vibrant orange-and-white colour scheme and African-themed decor marked the occasion of the annual Community Engagement Awards held in the Oppidan Dining Hall last Thursday evening. The formal sit-down dinner this year added a touch of class to an event that honours those contributing to and excelling in the field of Student Community Engagement.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student and Academic Affairs, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, welcomed the guests, who included the Vice-Chancellor, members of the Community Engagement Committee, community partners and students. Guest speaker Dr Di Wilmot, Dean of the Education Faculty, focused on the six aspirations/hopes that she had for the students’ future as a new generation of leaders in the context of a transforming South Africa, where, as she put it, “the legacy of the past is still evident in the present”.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by a Rhodes Jazz trio as well as the energetic and talented Amaphiko dancers, a township-based group coached by Janet Buckland. Rhodes third-year TV Journalism students provided video footage of the finalists in each award category.
First to be recognised were the large group of student volunteers who engaged over the course of the year with a number of different organisations, groups and sites in Grahamstown, under the auspices of the Rhodes Community Engagement Office. This was followed by certificates for the team leaders. Diana Hornby, Director of Community Engagement, explained that her office had decided on a system of student team leaders for each group of volunteers, in order to monitor activities more closely and at the same time develop student leadership.
Ms Hornby also paid tribute to the community partners, who made it possible for the student volunteers to engage in community activities, as well as providing them with learning opportunities. Nominations in the category of Community Partner of the Year were Ntsika High School, GADRA Matric School, the St Mary’s Development and Care Centre, and the Sakhuluntu Cultural Group, with St Mary’s DCC emerging as the winner.
Next was the Community Engaged Scholarship Award, one that recognises a student who has applied their academic discipline to a matter of community interest or development. The winner was Catherine Luyt, a Doctoral student in Biochemistry, who assisted the Galela Amanzi Society to test the quality of water being provided to different sites in Grahamstown. Water featured prominently in this year’s awards, as Galela Amanzi also won the Society of the Year Award for their work in putting rainwater tanks at a range of schools and other community sites, and generally raising awareness about water rights and access.
The combined Residence/Hall of the Year Award went to Lilian Ngoyi Hall for their enterprising efforts in growing and providing vegetables for a community soup kitchen, as well as the extent to which hall members were involved in community engagement activities.
The last award of the evening, for Student Volunteer of the Year, went to Alex Johns, a mature student and woman extraordinaire, who came from Australia to further her law studies in South Africa, and specifically selected Rhodes University on the basis of its combination of academic and community engagement activities.