Kamhlushwa / Humans Living Passions – Community Enrichment from Within
meet the extraordinary Imagine Scholars
Imagine Scholar is a unique after-school program in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, reaching out to the most ambitious children in the local schools. Together, students and facilitators create a nourishing environment emphasizing personal growth, the finding and fostering of passions and the upholding of core moral values.
Although Imagine Scholar has a record of outstanding academic achievements (like students attending the Yale-Program, the African Leadership Academy or United World Colleges), the main focus of the community enrichment program is character-building aimed at the empowerment of leaders; one day these leaders will be the vanguard of social and economic enrichment in their community and even today many of the students engage in charitable activities, business contests and science projects. As founder Corey Johnson puts it: “I’m incredibly proud of all the huge successes, but the real goal is to create good people. I’d be more proud if they become good mothers, fathers or coworkers, just good people; because that’s what the world needs.”
Imagine Scholar’s dynamic approach to education takes student-centric methods to the next level: students are involved in all crucial decision-making processes from schedules to subjects and the selection of new aspirants. The vision is to have (former) Imagine Scholars run the entire program by themselves within the next years. Think tanks, TED-talks, creative and critical thinking exercises, communal reading sessions, communication classes, academics, chess and meditation are some dimensions of the holistic framework. Volunteers help with the day to day schedule and function as mentors.
If you would like to make a donation to support this inspiring project or volunteer on the ground, stop by here: http://imaginescholar.org/
I was humbled to live and work with these extraordinary humans, who take pride in being a bit "weird," but let me not keep you any longer from getting to know them yourself! Maybe you can't meet everybody in one day, so come back here, whenever you feel like it!
I fell in love with astronomy and decided to be an astrophysicist. It’s not only about the job, it’s the passion I have and I’m willing to help others and spread the science behind and the beauty of it.
Glen To be honest, when I started here, I wasn’t focused that much on my passion, but on my academics. I was introduced to online learning and found many passions, such as astronomy and chess. Also I’m now more willing to help others instead of just looking at my own self and academics. Before Imagine Scholar, my dream was being a doctor, but I fell in love with astronomy and decided to be an astrophysicist. It’s not only about the job, it’s the passion I have and I’m willing to help others and spread the science behind and the beauty of it. I was part of the space balloon project, which involves science of the air and sending a balloon to space. It has a computer, which is programmed by us to take pictures as it goes up. I think our team work was very good. We worked a lot on research before launch day, and when the day came, we applied our theory practically. I also learned to never give up. Even though we didn’t find our balloon, I still have the spirit to try next year; because I know, where there is a will, there is a way. I think Imagine Scholar played a huge role in me becoming the top student at my school, because I’m not just an individual, but I learned from other people and I was motivated to believe in myself. Therefore I had the dedication and was able to put in the hard work.
Gladys When I was young, I saw how much my mom suffered when she was sick. So, I told myself: "one day I wanna be the first doctor to cure HIV, Aids." Later I went to Tongo hospital, to do a job shadowing; when I felt the smell, I was like “oh no, do I really want to do this?” And as time goes on, I was like “nah, I’m afraid of blood, I can’t take this.” Then I wanted to do geology as a volcanologist.” By 2015 I told myself “I wanna be a teacher” and that’s what I’m studying now, doing my UNISA online course.
our target is to work with local primary schools. I’m doing it because when I grew up, I didn’t get the privilege to learn English
The program “Teach a Child to Read” I’m running with Noncedo and Sandiso. Our target is to work with local primary schools. I’m doing it because when I grew up, I didn’t get the privilege to learn English, someone who can teach me, or books from a library. If you start reading while you are young, it’s gonna be easy for you to explore more and your mind will think of things that happen outside of where you are. At home I read and spend a lot of time with my little brother chatting, singing, laughing. I also go to church. That’s where I act drama, sing, do poems, teach young kids at Sunday school. Maybe on Saturdays I go out to Malelane with my friends and most Mondays I spend my time at the orphanage and its private school, helping with anything. If I have to clean the house, I do that, I do laundry, I look after the kids or I play with them.
Nomcebo Originally I dreamed about being a doctor, because it was something that I heard people saying, like “being a doctor is cool, you get to earn a lot of money.” At Imagine Scholar I fell in love with accounting, so I decided in grade 9 that I want to look into it. And then there is my passion to sew: I started sewing when I was about six. So, I always got into trouble with my mom for cutting clothes that I didn’t use anymore and changing them to something I wanted to wear. I started drawing because I was tired of getting into trouble. One day, Megan saw my sketchbook and made me realize how passionate I am about fashion design. We went to one of the shops in Nelspruit, where they sell fabrics. It was challenging, because I had to get instructions from Youtube videos. But it was fun, because I learned that I can use math in fashion design; I have to take measurements and do calculations and all that.
I didn’t really know about my passion until someone helped me to realize it. So, I thought it would be good, if I lid open the eyes of other people in the community
My idea of passion was my motivation to partake in a program that trains women to sew their own clothes; I didn’t really know about my passion until someone helped me to realize it. So, I thought it would be good, if I lid open the eyes of other people in the community, because I don’t think they are aware of their passions. I discovered that they have skills and talents, but they don’t know how to use them. I thought that using my passion to inspire them would be a good way of showing them that they can start their own passion projects and maybe use them to earn money. After Imagine Scholar I walk all the way home and that is part of my exercise. I do dishes, read books, do homework; I also love writing short stories and I draw things apart from fashion design. Besides that I hang out with my sisters. We talk about things that we sometimes agree and sometimes don’t agree on. So it’s fun. I also watch television and I like to sit alone and think, think about anything excluding academics.
Phila When I started Imagine Scholar, it was very hard. I was introduced to many things that I didn’t have at my high school, like the library and the computers. I struggled with reading books and using the internet and connecting with people from different countries. But then Imagine Scholar became a family. Before I came here, I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. But I realized that the interest was more in the science of mechanics and electronics. I also love computer programming. I practice my skills online and facilitators help me. This is a place where I get to develop myself. It provides me with resources that I don’t get at school and I can explore my passions, like writing poems. I see my role as a person who shares information and helps other students with academic challenges and their personal lives.
two reasons why I love reading: one is self-development and the other is fun. I get to leave the place that I am in, you know, go to another country or another religion or custom and really get involved in those characters and their stories
Imagine Scholar has four whys. They focus on leaving your comfort zone, developing your extraordinary self, being empowered to inspire the world and doing the right thing. These whys have spoken to me and I also believe in self-development and growth as a person. I’m here from Tuesday until Saturday. On other days I explore my science passion by doing experiments at home. I also love cooking, I watch science shows on TV and read a lot of books. There are two reasons why I love reading: one is self-development and the other is fun. I get to leave the place that I am in, you know, go to another country or another religion or custom and really get involved in those characters and their stories and whatnot. It also helps my vocabulary, yes, to become a better writer and it helps us with our applications and academics.
I see myself as a friend and someone who seeks growth by exploring whatever he can
Chawe When I came here, the other students were very welcoming to me and also the facilitators treated me as one of them. And, as time went on, this became my second family and a home. Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a cardiologist; but, being exposed to so many different passions and interests here at Imagine Scholar, I became aware that there’s more. I discovered different things, such as poetry, filming, and engineering. For now my aspirations are filming and electrical and chemical engineering. At Imagine Scholar I’m a student, but that role has evolved, because now I see myself as a friend and someone who seeks growth by exploring whatever he can, whether it’s learning how to speak Russian, being part of the F1 challenge or hosting a recycling workshop. During school breaks I usually play chess or read a novel. I’m into fiction and science fiction. On Sundays I go to church and when I’m at home I do a lot of reading and studying, and just spend time with my siblings.
Imagine Scholar is a place where I get to be myself
Allan In the year 2015 there was a selection-program for Imagine Scholar; that’s where I first heard about it. I started to attend the selection program in 2015, made it to the top 20 and then to the top 10 of Imagine Scholar. To me, Imagine Scholar is a place where I get to be myself, a place where I get to communicate with other people and learn from them in the same way they learn from me. My dream is to become a great leader and to be a doctor. One of the skills that I get from Imagine Scholar is critical thinking, which I feel should play a huge role in terms of me becoming a doctor. Outside of Imagine Scholar I go to my normal school. Each and every day we have seven hours of school. After school and during breaks I usually play chess with my peers, which helps me to learn and I’m enjoying it. I also spend time with my family and play with my nephew.
because I was passionate, I was able to persevere
Muzi At Imagine Scholar there are always people who listen to what I want to say. So, I feel very good, like in a favorite place where I get to express myself the way I want. Before I started Imagine Scholar I wanted to be a teacher and at some point a nature conservationist. But then there was a year when Corey started a business club, which helped me to realize my passion for business; that is why I am aspiring to grow up and start a lot of businesses, so that I can build more orphanage homes, because that’s one of my dreams. In 2015, we went to Johannesburg to partake in a competition called the Kidpreneur-Challenge, where youngsters like us compete and promote their business; ours made 4th place, so it was one of the best. It was very hard to start a business. But, because I was passionate, I was able to persevere. I was able to stand and just push and here I am now – I own small businesses and hopefully I am going to own bigger ones in the future. I do not really have a life outside of Imagine Scholar, because I’m in grade 12 now (chuckles). So, if I’m not at Imagine Scholar, I’m at school and if I’m not at school, I’m at home. I use most of my time for studying. However, when I get time, I go to church or play chess with my friends.