Where are you from?
I am…generally I’d say Durban, KwaZulu Natal. We moved around quite a bit growing up; different sections eMlazi and Lamontville. I also went to Primary and High School eManzimtoti which meant I spent a lot of social time there so to be all inclusive I’d say Durban.
Where you live now?
Now I live in Dalian. It’s a beautiful coastal city in North Eastern China.
Where you work?
I work for the Aston Educational Group as a foreign language teacher.
What does your work entail?
Being awesome-generally …also teaching English and “Western culture” to adults and children from ages 3-13 years old. I put that in quotation marks because I think my students are exposed enough to “Western Culture”. This is evident in the standards of beauty they are taught (snow white, stick thin) and how they view intelligence (one who can speak English and survive in a Caucasian world). Clearly I do not support these views so I choose to teach them how to use language to engage with people from different places and cultures.
Being a foreign educator is a huge responsibility. I’m one of the few foreigners most of my students have ever seen and most likely the first black person they’ve ever interacted with. This means before I can even attempt to teach them anything new, the way I interact with them has to “unteach” them the ideas that they already have about foreigners -Africans more specifically.
What gets your blood boiling?
When South African expats think it is okay to speak badly about my country or my people to me, especially in my company. When they assume that it’s okay to do so because “surely [I ]left home because [I was ]smart enough to realise it’s going downhill”.
I mean, I am not blind to the issues we’re currently facing as a country, but one does not go to the neighbours house to talk about their domestic issues. It sincerely rubs me the wrong way when people who do nothing to help any situation grand stand and talk about everything that’s going wrong. My point is, “Unless you’re planning to do something about the situation – sit down, you’re irrelevant.”
What conversations are you having?
I am really passionate about early childhood and youth development so I’ve truly been enjoying hearing stories about different journeys. Moments when lives changed, which methods are most effective to influence people’s lives.
And mostly I have been loving the inevitable subject of growing up as a woman and as a black child all over the world. The parallels, the differences. I’ve spent long nights with strangers on trains talking about identity, the purpose of youth, the different facets of love and the illusive idea of home.
What would you like to say to young people?
What could I possibly say that wouldn’t sound cliché?
I’d say just do it, whatever it is. That idea you’ve had that you don’t quite know how to go about, just go for it, uzofunda ngendlela. Knock on doors until you get in. You are enough as you are. Don’t wait to get older, to know more to have more- do it now.
What has you excited at the moment?
I am excited about the prospect of starting my Master’s Degree next semester. I’ve missed academia! I’ve also recently started a 3-month fitness programme which is intense, but is teaching me about staying healthy and disciplined.
What would you like to say to you future self?
To my future self I’d like to say, well-done. Look at you slaying and staying true to you. I am proud of you, of how much you have dreamed and grown and dared. Av’ uyiskhokho, shame!
Would you like people to follow you on social media?
I would love to connect with more Activators.
Nokukhanya Zulu did the first module of the programme in 2015 but could not complete because she answered the call of growth and went to China. She took few moments away from her African Adventures in China for a catch up session.