New beginnings: Scores of students, mainly SHAWCO volunteers, completed the Masithethe isiXhosa course recently.
The Masithethe isiXhosa course has become a useful resource for UCT staff and students, particularly for those coming from outside Cape Town.
Offered by the Multilingualism Education Project (MEP) in the Centre for Higher Education Development, the course aims to teach basic conversational isiXhosa skills to staff and students. The programme has graduated more than 1,000 participants since its inception in 2006.
The most recent group to complete the course - the second of the year - was presented with certificates recently. Here participants spoke highly of the training, saying it helped them to learn more of a different culture, and how to interact with isiXhosa speakers.
"At least now I can survive if I were to take a taxi to Khayelitsha," commented student Koketso Senosi, a SHAWCO volunteer who hails from the North West.
The course is not a walk in the park by any means.
"It's very difficult, but once you manage the clicks it becomes easy because you can always practice it," said Mpumalanga-born student Katherine Hall. Associate Professor Mbulungeni Madiba, MEP co-ordinator, said feedback from past participants indicates that the programme is achieving its goals beyond just teaching participants how to speak isiXhosa.
"There are, of course, other intercultural benefits, such as self-awareness, confidence, people skills, building trust, opening new horizons and breaking down barriers."
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