Through Our Lens: The Power of the Student Voice

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By Aimee Hare

As an exchange student from South Africa, I find it interesting to compare the student voice at UCSC with my experiences back home. The similarities are uncanny — there is unquestionable power in the student voice through its conviction, dynamism and (sometimes naïve) optimism. After spending one day at the Practical Activism Conference at UCSC earlier this quarter, I can see these qualities applied to both the students of Cape Town and Santa Cruz.

Even though the contexts may vary, the drive and enthusiasm students have for speaking for those less fortunate and tangibly helping others in need seamlessly crosses continents. To give you a glimpse of the student voice in Cape Town, here are two of the main student-run organizations at the University of Cape Town. Because the education system is so underresourced in South Africa, students have identified this as a key focus area and built projects around this paradigm, with the aim to provide additional educational support for learners in disadvantaged areas.

Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.

Student Health and Welfare Center’s Organization (SHAWCO) is a multi-faceted organization — pictured above is the Education Sector, and its focus is to help children learn. SHAWCO runs 11 different education projects in various areas of Cape Town, including Little Moon, a project working with junior school learners in Nyanga. The aim of the project is to promote a love for reading and uses song and dance to facilitate learning.

Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.

The Practical Activism Conference (above) is one such example of UCSC students using their voice to get involved in their community. Students were encouraged to be more involved in social justice issues , through speakers, workshops and tables with representatives from different student organizations represented.

Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.
Photo by Aimee Hare.
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Photo by Aimee Hare.

Ubunye is an entirely student driven organization with three core projects: TeachOut, which provides extra tutorial sessions to learners; Township Debating League, a debating project aiming to improve thinking as well as public speaking skills; and Inkanyezi, a mentorship program. Pictured above are volunteers from the TeachOut program during a Saturday session at Matthew Goniwe in Khayelitsha.

 


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