'The awards changed my life'
Significantly, the Young Communicators Awards opened my eyes to a whole new world and were the highlight of my high school career.
As well as being spoiled rotten by the organisers in the week of the finals in June 2006, I was among nine provincial champions who visited Sowetan in Industria and the SABC in Auckland Park. We were hosted at a memorable dinner by Anglo American, who also hosted the finals at their Johannesburg headquarters.
I went home with a lot of new perceptions of our country and the people in it because I met so many diverse people during the process.
I was taught on a new level about how to respect and interact, as well as stand by my own cultural principles, side by side, equally, with various cultures.
At tertiary level . what a shock! There is so much new stuff to get used to in so little time. It changes everything that you are familiar with, and suddenly there are new people, new classes, new rules, new everything!
Truly, the most important thing is to stay true to who you are during this time.
Also, stick to the values you learnt at home. There is no one here to check whether you are doing what you have to, when you have to.
I am studying B.Com (Law) at the Potchefstroom campus of North West University. I would like to become an advocate and one day get involved in politics.
I just want South Africa to be a positive, fair and happy place to stay in. I will never, ever leave South Africa, like other people do.
I love my country and its people too much - so much that I might be seen as being stubbornly patriotic!
And I think if more people set their minds to it and thought like I do about our beautiful country, we would all see the start of positive change.
Back to the awards. The whole experience changed my life, and for months before and after the finals I still could not believe that I was fortunate enough to get an experience like this!
I would love to do it all over again and I urge every young person to give it a try. I promise, it will change your life forever!
l Opperman represented Northern Cape in the 2006 finals of the Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards