11 September 2020

Byline: Levhuwani Matumba

For some people‭, ‬being the only child at home mean the opportunity to have everything one wants in life‭. ‬

But that was not the case with Tshegofatso Phetla who passed her matric and did not have enough money to register at the university‭. ‬

“I tried to apply for a bursary but was unsuccessful and that discouraged me‭. ‬

I was not really thinking about going to TVET colleges because of how people perceived them‭.‬

Most people undermine TVET colleges and say they are meant for slow learners or high school drop outs‭.‬

With the lack of knowledge‭, ‬I fell into that mindset but was saved by my aunt Ms. Eniccah Mailola, who lives in Embalenhle‭. ‬

She phoned and gave me a lecture about TVET colleges since she also studied in one of the colleges‭. ‬

I took her advice and also thought it was better than taking a gap year‭, ‬that was how I ended up at GS TVET College in Evander‭.‬”

Tshego studied Engineering and Related Design‭ (‬ERD‭) ‬also known as Mechanical Engineering‭, ‬majoring with Automotive Repair and Maintenance‭. ‬

“I registered for National Certificate Vocational‭ (‬NCV‭) ‬courses from Level 2‭ ‬to Level 4‭ ‬for 3‭ ‬years‭,‬”‭ ‬added Tshego who further mentioned that it was not an easy journey for her since it is a male dominated field‭. ‬

“Sometimes I pressured myself to work twice as much as men to prove a point that women are also capable‭.‬

I also put much pressure on myself to always be ahead since I knew nothing about cars‭.‬”

According to Tshego‭, ‬young people should stop being stereotyped and also consider‭ ‬TVET colleges‭. ‬

“You know‭, ‬at TVET colleges we do both theory and practical‭, ‬which makes us employable‭. ‬

The 23-year-old Tshego is currently doing her internship in China for 18‭ ‬months‭. ‬

She also used a leap of faith when she submitted her CV for the internship‭. ‬

“All they needed was NCV Level 4‭, ‬police clearance and medical‭ ‬examination to qualify for the opportunity‭.‬”

Tshego’s journey made her realize that with God anything is possible‭. ‬

She further thanked the South African Government for creating opportunities for the TVET college students to acquire skills in China that will help the youth to be part of the economic development‭. ‬

“I have learned a lot since I came to China‭.‬

We are exposed to machines we never knew or saw before‭. ‬

I also learned a bit of the Chinese language‭ (‬Lol‭) ‬although I still find it difficult and also learned so much about their culture‭.‬”‭  ‬

When asked how she coped to be in China where the COVID-19‭ ‬outbreak was said to have originated from‭? ‬

She said‭ ‬“Honestly‭, ‬it was not easy to be in a foreign country where there is a deadly virus and you have no family member around‭.‬

When I thought China was getting better‭, ‬it got worse in South Africa, so I was constantly worried about my family and friends back home‭.‬”‭ ‬

According to Tshego‭, ‬China is a very weird Country but in a good way‭, ‬not forgetting how beautiful it is‭. ‬

“The challenge we face is that most of the Chinese people do not know English and that makes communication to be a problem‭. ‬

Another thing is some Chinese get freaked out‭, ‬while some get excited when they see a black person‭. ‬

They constantly want to take pictures with us and sometimes they take us pictures without our concern‭, ‬and some just want to touch our hair to feel the texture‭ (‬lol‭).‬

I was uncomfortable with that but I got used to it when time went by‭. ‬

All in all Chinese are nice people‭, ‬very kind and caring and I had never felt any discrimination from anyone‭. ‬

China is a very interesting country‭, ‬more advanced in technology and convenient‭. ‬

I had observed that Chinese people are hard workers‭, ‬sometimes I become concerned about seeing very old people still waking up and go‭ ‬to work while I feel like they should be home enjoying their pension‭.  ‬

Most of them work until they old but they still look good and strong‭. ‬

What I also like about China is that you can walk late outside without any fear of being raped or robbed or anything‭, ‬that’s how‭ ‬safe it is‭. ‬

I have seen some strange food around here but I have been willing to try their cuisine‭, ‬as much as it is really spicy it still tastes good‭ (‬lol‭).‬”‭  ‬

Tshego said going to China was only the beginning‭, ‬as she believe that greater things are still to come her way‭. ‬

Acquiring more information and gain experience is on top of her cards so that one day she can‭ ‬start her own Automotive Workshop business and become successful‭.‬

“Lastly I just want to work hard and make my parents proud and give them the life they deserve‭.‬”‭ ‬

She also started her YouTube channel to share her experience in China‭. ‬

She also use the platform to discuss and share challenges faced by young people‭. ‬

Her Bible Verse is Romans 8:28‭. 

Don’t forget to follow her on Facebook: Tshegofatso Phetla.

Tshogofatso in China