A group of 18 South African university staff and students embarked on a journey of a lifetime in November 2016 – all of them handpicked for the prestigious Abe Baily Travelling Bursary.
Nalize in front of the Goodenough Club. The Goodenough College was the group’s base in London.
TUT could not have asked for a better ambassador than Nalize Venter (25), a Master’s student and part-time lecturer at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, who describes the trip as life-changing.
The Abe Baily Trust and Travel Bursary was established in terms of the will of Sir Abe Baily. It offers students and junior lecturers an opportunity to visit the United Kingdom and participate in educational tours according to a set programme.
The group, consisting of a diverse mix of young adults representing higher education institutions across the country, started their journey in Cape Town for a team building session where the tour leader, John Gibbon, explained the “ground rules” for the trip. On route to London, they made a pit stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Head Quarters of the African Union) where they attended an AU sitting and posed on the famous steps where African leaders are regularly photographed.
But London was calling where a jam-packed programme, that would make any traveller green with envy, awaited them. During the next couple of days they would experience some of the world’s most famous scenes and sites and get to interact with interesting people (two bursars even got the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II!).
“The highlights are too many to mention,” says Nalize. However, she indicates that what stood out for her was a trip to the British Parliament (House of Commons), attending no fewer than five productions staged on the West End (including a Christmas performance by famous Kings College Choir at the Royal Albert Hall) and visiting museums and art galleries where she could view the work of artists that she had only seen in textbooks. “It was especially pleasing to see the work of South African artists Jane Alexander and Marlene Dumas standing tall among that of other well-known artists,” Nalize reminisces.
The further explains that an excursion to the Oxford University was also memorable. “Nothing could beat standing in a hall where some of the world’s greatest minds graduated and to realise that it is actually possible for any student to attend that university, especially now that I am an Abe Bailey bursar,” adds Nalize. “A meeting with Camden Borough Mayor, Nadia Shah, one of the youngest mayors in the UK, was also inspiring.” On a lighter note, she tried her hand at curling (a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles).
During the trip, Nalize made a presentation on a topic that concerns her. She chose the arts, focusing on the ability of the craft sector (the topic of her Master’s dissertation) to enable people to earn a living and to feel better about themselves. Some of the other bursars, many of whom study unrelated fields, were so impressed by the arts advocate’s presentation that they have since their return informed her that they have attended their first art exhibitions.
“In a way, we are all the same, despite the prejudices we may have of each other’s universities. This was an opportunity to interact with people you would never have done otherwise,” she says.
Nalize, who is passionate about community service and quite active in outreach projects for her church, plans to become an arts teacher upon completion of her studies. “I enjoy working with students,” she alludes. Her art signature is narrative figures, which she cleverly crafts around people who have made a lasting impression on her by using objects that remind her of them.
Despite the rigorous selection process, Nalize encourages fellow staff/students to apply for the 2017 bursary (the application process will be communicated later this year).
“This is probably the biggest opportunity you can get to learn and to grow as a person,” Nalize concludes.
The group was the first to experience a rain-free visit to Stonehenge
(a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England) in the long history of
the travelling bursary.
For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology please contact Willa de Ruyter on tel: 012 382 5352 or send an email to