GC Alumni Interview Series: Senzo Hlope

4 Oct 2018 - 00:15

One of the challenges of running a programme that seeks to provide students with opportunities to reflect critically on issues of citizenship or social justice, is that once you wrap up a course or workshop you wonder whether you achieved your objective. More importantly, you wonder if you had a meaningful impact on those students. It is from these questions that we bring you a series of feature pieces where we interviewed UCT Global Citizenship (GC) alumni, to find out what life looks like “after GC”. It is one of our attempts at interrogating the impact we have had over the years.

Our first feature is on Senzo Hlophe, a former Global Citizenship student who grew up in a small town in Kwa-Zulu Natal called Port Shepstone. He has an extensive background in research and project management and is currently - amongst other things - a Master’s Candidate at the University of Cape Town. Senzo was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to share with us what his life looks like post GC.

Lebogang Maragelo: Can you firstly tell us how you came to be involved with the Global Citizenship Programme, and what in particular led you to it?

Senzo Hlope: Throughout my varsity life I was involved in the student development sector, more specifically SHAWCO. I was referred by a SHAWCO staff member to participate in the GCP pilot programme back in 2010/2011 I think - that’s where my involvement began.

LM: In retrospect, do you think participating in GC programmes influenced the trajectory of your life in any way? For instance, has it helped lead you to the nature of work you are currently doing, or perhaps how you spend your free time?

SH: That question is loaded with a whole lot… Thing is about GCP is that it is a value add to a group of students who are already in the social development space if I can call it that way.  Back when I enrolled to the programme a pre-requisite to one of the courses was that you have to be involved in some form of outreach work. I think the big takeaways for me was reflective learning and constantly asking questions and trying to improve whatever social project you are implementing.

LM: Has the Global Citizenship Programme had any impact on your personhood or professional life?

SH: It is difficult to isolate the GCP experience alone as an anchor into who I have become but I can see how it added value to my collective experience in varsity and influenced who I have become today. GCP provided a platform for student leaders to engage on issues and share learnings and our experiences and plot a way forward both formal and informal.

LM: What one lesson did you take from GC, which has remained with you over the years?

SH: Reflective learning! I do this even with my work.

LM: You mentioned that you use reflective learning in your work, are you currently employed, studying or busy with any project you would like to tell us about?

SH: I am employed full-time by the DG Murray Trust as an Innovation Manager responsible for nurturing an innovative and inclusive society. I am also enrolled at UCT for a Masters of Philosophy in Public Policy & Administration in the Political Studies department.

LM: So what does an average day in your life look like now?

SH: Tjo! That is a difficult one but it involves a lot of meetings face to face, over skype, teleconference and research (quite a lot actually) and a whole of tea and coffee to stay alive. I oversee a portfolio of grants which I have to manage from reviewing applications to providing strategic support; this means I have a lot of check-ins with various NGO partners across the country. Also get to commission and manage various projects like improving social welfare service financing, community beneficiation, tackling alcohol harms to name a few.

LM: GC as a programme aims to create channels for students to find their voices as active citizens, do you consider yourself an active citizen who engages critically with current issues? And is this something you do intuitively, or did GC help you gain some insight on it?

SH: I think I am right there with active citizens and have always been because of my upbringing and the studies I pursued at varsity and the activities I participate(d) in while in school, varsity and now.

LM: Can you share what you appreciated the most and least about the GC programme?

SH: The cohort was amazing! I met people from various projects and organisation within the UCT community and made friendships with people that persists today!

LM: Lastly, do you have a message you'd like to share with the current GC cohort?

SH: GCP will provide you with an opportunity to sharpen you critical thinking skills and improve your work by engaging deeper with your own experiences.

Lebogang Maragelo: Postgraduate LLb student at the University of Cape Town, Intern at the Global Citizenship Programme at the University of Cape Town, and occasional Writer.

Twitter: @Lebo_maragelo. LinkedIn: Lebogang Maragelo.