Monday, May 1, 2017

A Privilege

At the end of March, Confidence graduated from University of Johannesburg (UJ) with a diploma in accounting.  

Graduating from university is a big achievement. It's been over 20 years since my college graduation and I'm still a little surprised that I was able to do it. Not because the school work was all that difficult but because at the time, it would have been easier for me not to go to college than it was for me to go if that makes any sense at all. Now, as a forty-something year old, I realize that I was given every opportunity in life so while graduating was something to celebrate, not graduating would have been a travesty. But enough about me. 

Confidence was not given every opportunity in life. If she had not gone to university, or if she had tried and found it too difficult because of the fees and costs, her government school education prior to, or the fact that she slept on a dirt floor with rats because she didn't have enough money to live in better conditions while in school it would have been understandable. But somehow she did it.  Which tells you all you need to know about Confidence. 

Confidence invited me to attend her graduation ceremony. Each graduate was given just three tickets and Confidence invited her mother, her father and me. Usually in life when we are invited to a big event to celebrate an important occasion, it's not a surprise, we expect to be invited and we are angry if we aren't. But I didn't expect to be invited and without question Confidence inviting me to attend her graduation is one of the greatest honors of my life. 

At the same time, I felt a little bad about it. I wondered if Confidence had extended the invitation to me and then immediately thought of thirty other people that she'd wished she'd invited instead. I gently gave her several opportunities to un-invite me. Not because I didn't want to go, but because if she decided that one of her brothers or an old friend or someone else should attend in my place, I wanted her to be able to invite that person. But she insisted that she wanted me there and so I went. 

Being one of the three invitees meant that I spent most of graduation day with Confidence's parents. I had never met them before and I couldn't help but wonder if they were wondering what I was doing there. Keep in mind, I only met Confidence in December of 2016 and by then, she was already poised to graduate. I played no role in helping her or assisting her throughout her college career. 

Confidence, her parents and her diploma. 
If her parents were wondering why I was there, they didn't show it. They were warm and welcoming and funny and nice. Oh, and they were young. About six years younger than I am. Suddenly everyone in the world is younger than me! While I credit Confidence for what she was able to endure and all of the hard work she put into her education, I think some credit goes to her parents. Somehow in the most turbulent, dirty, dangerous, vigilante-justice ridden environment that I've ever encountered in my life, Diepsloot, they kept her on the right path. Or you could argue that Confidence was just born with something inside her that kept her right. Likely it was a combination.

It's clear from what Confidence has told me that her parents were very, very strict with her when she was growing up and they remain so with her brothers.  Her brothers were unable to attend the graduation (no not because I stole the last ticket) because it was a school day and the parents wouldn't let them miss a day of school. 

After the ceremony we took lots of photos of Confidence and her family and friends out on the UJ campus in the hot summer sun. We posed on the perfectly green lawn and in front of the fountains (does every college have a fountain?) And there I am in some of the photos, where I will remain for eternity as the sole white face.  Maybe one day when Confidence is old she will look at the photos and ask herself "what was the name of that white lady?" Hopefully not, as that would mean that she and I would have lost touch. 

Who is that second from the left? 
Confidence's dad asked her what was next and she said that she plans to get her degree (three years for a diploma and four years for a degree) and then her masters and then her PhD. She told him, "you'd better get used to going to graduations because you're going to be going to a lot of them."

Confidence and her mom. 


  1. when i first meet you i kept on asking myself a lot of questions , what is she going to ask me and will i be able to answer every question , but you made me comfortable .i was stressed about certain things in my life , but your kindness made me open up. you made me see the light and positive things about myself yet we just met .so many people wanted the invite to my graduations but i chose you ,not because of your colour ,status or standard i chose you because you came for a short period in my life yet you made a huge difference , friendship is not about who you've known the longest its about who walked in your life and said im here for you and proved it , you did that for me. and i will forever be grateful. and i will always keep in touch even when you are far from S.A, love will travel as far as you let it, it is grater than distance

    1. Thank you so much! And you are so right "friendship is not about who you've know the longest it's about who walked in your life and said I'm here for you and proved it." I will never forget your graduation. I am grateful to have been a part of that very special day. xx


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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.