During Year Equip, the second year of the Fellowship Programme, Candidate Fellows attend an event called Connect. The event is aimed at developing a sense of community among Candidate Fellows and allowing them to think about the dynamics of community by observing a particular community. Connect is usually held over a weekend during which the Candidate Fellows and Foundation Talent camp together and then interact with a given community. The 2014 camp was hosted in Grabouw between 4 and 6 April and the community they engaged was based in Villiersdorp, some 40 km away.
Connect is the first opportunity that Candidate Fellows have to meet the other Candidate Fellows in their year. This is because the Foundation has two intakes for every Fellowship group: Grade 12 applicants and first-year university applicants. A weekend spent together, away from their normal surrounds, allows Candidate Fellows to see each other’s more relaxed sides. The person underneath the many achievements is revealed and the Candidate Fellows in a sense become more human to each other. This is where significant relationships are forged, each having the potential to develop into great business partnerships. At this point in the Fellowship they realise that together they can do more.
This year’s Connect saw the Candidate Fellows engage with one of the five schools in Villiersdorp. Tshepang Afrika, a Year Equip Candidate Fellow, explained their interaction with the school as taking the form of two-hour long inspirational presentations. They discussed the virtues of a strong vision, learning culture, sexual activity, substance abuse and envisioning a preferred future.
From the outset Candidate Fellows understand that one interaction with a community is not enough to bring about any noteworthy change. Instead they purpose to learn from their interaction with the community in question. This is done through debriefing sessions afterwards where they discuss the community’s structure; the social, intellectual and moral influences within it; as well as its needs and the shape that a future intervention might take. One could call this a first and hands-on lesson in how to effect social change – one of the earmarks of the Fellowship Programme.
Connect deals with the Foundation Pillar called the Spirit of Significance. It is defined by the Foundation as “a weight of personality that comes from living a life of passion and integrity; a recognition that personal satisfaction comes from empowering oneself in order to serve others.”