Sunday, October 20, 2013

Investing in future leaders

I am writing today inspired by the experiences of yesterday, the 19th of October 2013. I was one of the panel interviewers for Student Scholarships for top performing academic children coming from underprivileged backgrounds. I had not envisaged the level of responsibility this process would require. One after another these bright, bubbly, confident, top performing and focused 6th graders came in presenting their biggest achievements including trophies, medals, awards and certificates. I was pleasantly surprised, firstly by the level of commitment already reflected in these young kids through dedication to academic and sporting excellence and secondly by their confidence and consciousness to a measure of success. The sober part for me was the thought that my recommendations and ratings would determine the future of these little future leaders. I was in a process that would impact on a child's future and life in realising their full potential, a difficult reality to fathom. One wishes all the children would be accorded the scholarships as they deserve realising who they are meant to be, already being all top in their grades, however the reality of the economic concept of scarcity in today's world means not everyone is given the same opportunity nor exposed to what they can become that easily, especially in most areas of Africa due to lack of resources. Some of these children come from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas such as  Tembisa and Alexandra and evidently, the decision to be made will impact their lives as they will be placed in some of the best top private high schools in the country if successful. If they do well, they will further be enrolled into top Universities to further their studies. It was an intriguing day with inspiration coming from the dedication to success of these children in spite of their backgrounds. Some children had working parents while others had unemployed parents who depend on government support. While the parents were aware of the impact of the process to their children's future, I am not sure if the children themselves really knew how life changing these interviews could be. Of particular note was the innocence of the kids as they answered the questions that would determine their lives. An adult going into a job interview will go in there to impress and outwit the other candidates and get the job, some even at all costs which may not be all that noble. This was not the case for these little ones who came in to just say who they are and what they have achieved so far without any form of competitive posture nor slander. It was up to the interviewers to decipher potential against need and give them a rating that will enhance their chances of getting that scholarship and better their chances at life. It was a roller coaster of emotion, from finding the child in me so as to identify with the children at their level and make them comfortable enough to give the best of themselves, to remaining objective in spite of all the sad stories arising from a financial need perspective of the process. It is when you give of yourself within a community that you realise some form of greed and selfishness in your own life as you see how other people are surviving on way less than you may ever consider as a livelihood and yet they remain joyful and thankful, bound by love. I was inspired by the hunger for success already instilled in these kids, humbled by the support of the parents through challenging times and grateful for sponsors who find resources to advance and help these children to be developed into great future leaders.