Ambassadors' Graduation: What Their Time with IAWA Means to Them

After four years, we are excited to announce our first group of Ambassadors have celebrated their graduation, and the completion of IAWA’s pilot program.

Hosted by Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, the ceremony took place at the Royal Marang Hotel, where parents and the Rustenburg community were on hand to witness the Ambassadors receiving their diplomas.

In a series of speeches, the Ambassadors shared their experiences. For some, the value in their work with IAWA stood in learning more about who they are as South Africans, and what they can do for their community. Others appreciated the opportunity to meet people from around the world and touring universities. Still others understood their reach, and the reach of IAWA to be much further than the individual.

For Thato, learning the power within herself changed everything. “I’ve truly realized that, ever since I’ve been in this camp, I have found I told myself, ‘I’m going to keep speaking grateful things in my life,’ because I learned how powerful my mind is. How powerful my words are. And whatever I do I will have to remain focused on my goals,” she said during her speech.

For Betty, IAWA taught her a wide berth of things. “Being a part of I Am, We Are made me love my work, get along with many people, look for opportunities. I know my passion, my people. And now I am confident. Now I’m better at setting goals, planning ahead, making decisions, and working with other people.” She also pointed out that, through teaching one child, that child will then teach others.

Pursuing education and opportunity were strong themes in the Ambassadors’ speeches, reflecting the four years of IAWA’s camps peppered with visits to college campuses, chances to practice new skills such as with the IAWA Film Festival, and an overarching theme of dedication provides opportunity.

Since our beginning, Meisha wanted to create a self-sustaining solution to problems many South African youths face. Meisha’s goal was to give the youth tools to navigate life’s difficulties--she knew they were brilliant and capable enough to do it. The next step for IAWA is to expand its program to the next group of Ambassadors. Goals for IAWA moving forward, including hiring social workers who will be trained to work with parents and the community, increasing the number of Ambassadors and Facilitators, and finding a qualified local director to oversee programming. Long term, IAWA also plans grow to reach across the African Diaspora.

And so, after four years of hard work, we congratulate the Ambassadors and Facilitators for their accomplishments. Let the spirit of Ubuntu guide us as we develop our program further.