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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Miss Deaf SA inspires UFS teachers with her life story
2009-11-26

Pictured from the left, are: K. Botshelo, Vickey Fourie (Miss Deaf SA) and A. Morake.

Vicki Fourie, Miss Deaf SA 2009 and Miss Deaf HESC, recently visited the University of the Free State to motivate aspiring Foundation Phase teachers by sharing her life story with them.

When Vicki was two years old, her parents found out that she couldn’t speak. Two possible explanations were that she had had an ear infection or speech problems. They took her to a specialist and after a brain scan they found out that Vicki had 97% hearing loss in both ears.

Hearing aids were required and Vicki’s father, Pastor Gerhard Fourie from the Christian Revival Church (CRC) enrolled her in a kindergarten school for deaf children, Carel Du Toit in Cape Town.

However, even though Carel Du Toit’s slogan is ‘Where Deaf Children Learn to Speak’, it was because of her mother’s efforts that Vicki is able to communicate effectively with hearing people today.

Bonita Fourie would sit with her child every single day and teach her how to pronounce words phonetically and how to read lips. It is because of that that Vicki is not dependent on sign language at all.

When she was seven years old, her parents enrolled her in an English A.C.E. school. Even though Vicki’s home language is Afrikaans, her parents decided to go against the norm by placing her in an English school (most deaf/hard of hearing people cannot learn a second language). Today Vicki is fluent in both languages.

“I used to think that my hearing aids are just a normal thing you put on, like using glasses for reading,” she said. “I still think that way. People always come up to me and say, ‘It’s amazing how easily you adapt to hearing people. You have no stumbling blocks or holdbacks.’

“To me it’s interesting because my reaction is always this: ‘God gave me this situation, and I have made the best of it. I’ve overcome it, and therefore I can go forward in life’. We were born not to survive, but to thrive. I detest the attitude of, ‘I’m a victim, so the world owes me something’. The world owes nobody anything! We can be victorious over our own circumstances. It is possible. My name’s meaning is testifies to this: “Vicki” comes from the word “Victory”. I was meant to be victorious, and not a victim.”

Vicki, who is now 20, has achieved so much in life. She did ballet, hip-hop, modern dancing, drama (she even went to America for her dramatic monologue and poetry recitation), and she has published over 70 magazine articles, nationally and internationally. Her dreams are to write books one day, become a TV presenter, and motivate and inspire people all over South Africa through public speaking.

When one hears this story, one cannot help but be surprised by her success. It makes you realize that anything is possible when you see the potential in a child, and then do everything in your power to develop it and draw it out. When you believe in the child that you are educating, that child will sense it and blossom like a flower.

“Courage isn’t a gift, it is a decision,” Vicki said. “There will always be things that try to hold you back. The key to working with any child is to be patient, patient, and patient! Teachers play a huge role in equipping children for the future. It is a big responsibility, but it can be done.”
 

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