Student Excels in Global Community Challenge
Fourth-year Law student Ms Bongisile Nophakela has been making UKZN proud in the 2021 Global Community Challenge (GCC), being in the team which won the semi-finals of the online contest.
The GCC, hosted by the University of Calgary in Canada, encourages students to identify potential solutions with a global impact for local organisations in the Calgary community.
Nophakela, whose attention was drawn to the challenge by alumni and friend Ms Nokuthula Kubheka, said she was thrilled to compete on an international platform, explaining how she chose to participate in the Immigration Services Calgary topic because of the ‘uncertain economic and political times we live in where so many people are affected by immigration issues.’
Nophakela was grouped with teammates from Australia, Italy, New Zealand and Mexico who were all from diverse backgrounds and fields of expertise which gave the team the competitive edge they needed but also posed a few challenges in terms of time differences.
‘All of us at one point had to wake up at midnight to catch group meetings and attend GCC workshops, but it was nothing my team members and I were not prepared for. With lots of compromise and empathy we were able to overcome obstacles and work together in harmony,’ she said.
At the semi-finals hosted virtually, Nophakela’s team delivered an informative five-minute PowerPoint presentation aimed at providing a high-quality intake experience for Calgary Immigration Services. Highlighting the civil, economic and social challenges faced by immigrants the team identified short and long term solutions to immigration requirements, issues and formalities, including a gateway and world citizen chat app developed to inform and empower clients during their stay; an iPad kiosk at reception where clients can register and state reasons for their stay; a needs assessment survey to enable clients to express their needs freely; and a Calm Down Corner as a separate space where clients can relax when feeling overwhelmed.
The team takes part in the finals on 18 November. ‘I am so proud of my colleagues and excited to be in the finals which we are working hard to win,’ said Nophakela.
‘This challenge has forced me to think critically and develop a sense of cultural awareness and tolerance. I have become a better person in so many ways through my participation and I’ve also learned to become a team player,’ she added.
Winners of the GCC receive a training and mentorship programme as a group as well as individually.
Having attended the event virtually, Ms Normah Zondo Executive Director: Corporate Relations said: ‘We are very proud of Bongisile for taking up the challenge and for doing so well. Her participation in the Global Community Challenge has provided her with an opportunity to work with cross-cultural and multidisciplinary teams to find solutions for societal issues. The challenge also allows teams to develop skills in working with diverse groups, creativity, communication and building intercultural capability - which plays a critical role in moulding students to become innovation catalysts for meaningful change.’
Words: Hlengiwe Khwela