Atlantis Winter School 2017!!

Written By Sydney Piggott

As an international volunteer from Canada, arriving at Proteus Secondary School in Atlantis at 8:30 on a cold and foggy Monday morning, I didn’t know what to expect. Anxious. Excited. Scared. I had been with IkamvaYouth for two months already, but this was the moment I was waiting for. I couldn’t have known at that time that the next three weeks would be some of the best I have ever had.

Local celebrity Morgan Jacobs, educated in universities across the globe, kicked off the holiday program by sharing how he beat all odds to become a highly successful lawyer. He connected with learners on a profound level by including the local dialect in his presentation and inspired them to achieve their goals by focusing on their success. Next, Ursula Wellman from Green Cape revealed that there are countless post-school opportunities growing in Atlantis with the expansion of the green economy. Then, Yanga Totyi, the outstanding Atlantis Branch Coordinator, set the scene for the first  Atlantis Winter School.

Morgan Jacobs inspiring learners to work hard and reach their goals.


Despite being in the midst of exams, tutors traveled to Atlantis daily to help learners with the subjects most challenging to them. Now that’s dedication! Learners received individual attention to help improve their grades throughout the year. From mathematics to history, they were empowered to take control of their academic success with every session. Some learners even said it was the best time they had ever spent at school. A big shout out to Phathiswa Silwana, Marilee van der Merwe, Sinovuyo Masango, Nomathamsanqa Limani. Shaldene Langeveldt, Isaac Teoho Phiri, Liza Sibokoza, Sphesihle Ntuli, Namhla Kantolo, Yonela Makhuphula, Lelani Engelbrecht and the GreenCape professionals, who take time out of their busy schedules to assist; Tawanda Sango, Elmarie September and Soroya Copoto.

Atlantis tutors and staff sporting their IY t-shirts during Winter School.


Learners participated in a variety of educational and fun workshops. Julia Renouprez from the Data Clinic facilitated a four-day computer literacy workshop with the grade 11 learners on how to access and analyse public data. On the final day, learners interpreted the data they collected to tell their story of Atlantis. Facilitators from Plant the Seed Education taught learners about food security and sustainability. Learners, tutors, and staff were excited to plant a garden at the school and learn about the benefits of growing food in their community.

I had the privilege of delivering a diversity workshop where I shared my story of intersectionality, being a person of mixed-race, and as a child of immigrants in North America. Learners similarly shared their identities as the youth in Atlantis. Together, we challenged stereotypes, reflected on who we are, and recognized that compassion comes from understanding and appreciating each other’s differences. After the workshop, we continued to break down the outside perception of what young people in Atlantis are like and found creative ways to show others how remarkable they are. Personally, I felt so grateful to the learners for confiding in me and, in turn, allowing me to share the difficulties I have experienced as a person of colour in a very different context. We learned that, even though I looked very similar to many people in the room, our identities have been shaped by different experiences that we’ve lived. Little did they know that I was learning just as much from them as they were learning from me.

Diversity workshop with grade 11s.

We learned about important topics through A21’s human trafficking workshop, the Thuthuzela Care Centre’s talk on sexual and domestic violence, and Green Cape’s discussion on the effects of climate change. Learners were encouraged to pursue their goals in the Dream Factory workshop that had everyone on their feet. Captain Dicks from the South African Police Service came to discuss safety in the community and inspired learners by sharing his story on how he developed a passion for serving communities like Atlantis. FUNDZA helped learners to express themselves through creative writing and learners attended an excursion to the Swartland factory.

Thuthuzela Care Centre had everyone’s attention during their workshop on sexual violence and domestic abuse

Sustainability & Food security workshop with Plant the Seed Education.

Learners at Swartland Windows & Doors.
Matric Week
How could we forget our matriculants! We planned a special week for the grade 12 learners at West Coast College. Dedicated learners arrived every morning at 9:00 for an intense week of tutoring, workshops, tertiary applications, and exam practice. This allowed them to focus on their specific needs. As a reward for everyone’s hard work, we all went on an excursion to the V&A Waterfront. First, we visited a 3D art exhibition called Incredible Illusions in which learners were able to actively engage with art using their cell phones. Then, we went on an informative harbour cruise during which we learned the history of the area.

Group outing to the Incredible Illusions 3D Art exhibit at the Watershed.

I shared this quote from Sonia Johnson with the learners on the last day of Winter School because it embodies my hopes and expectations for the youth of Atlantis and for Ikamvanites across the country: “One determined person can make a significant difference, and a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”

I am so fortunate to have had this experience. When I landed in Cape Town in April, I could not have imagined that I would learn so much; that I would form amazing friendships; or that I would have felt such a connection to the community. I will always remember Atlantis Winter School and Matric Week as the highlight of my time here. Saying goodbye to the Atlantis community brought many of us to tears. I hope that one day I will be able to come back again.

I want to thank everyone at IY for allowing me to spend this time with you. A special thank you to Yanga Totyi, Andrea Pietersen, Pepe Hendricks, Merle Jacobs, and Simone Peinke for your immense support during Atlantis Winter School and Matric Week. It was truly incredible to be involved in such an amazing initiative. I’m looking forward to hearing great things about Ikamvanites in the future!

Me and the Atlantis Ikamvanites in the garden


Sydney Piggott is a graduate student studying Global Affairs at the University of Toronto – Munk School of Global Affairs. She is completing an internship with IkamvaYouth developing programmes related to career guidance, diversity training, and skills development for high school learners. She holds an undergraduate degree in International Development Studies from McGill University and has professional experience in corporate social responsibility, gender advocacy, youth leadership, and education.

IkamvaYouth Atlantis Last Day of Winter School!