Last week I posted about our plans to travel to Pretoria to help one of the students we work with apply for a Bursary, or scholarship. We left Welkom Thursday about noon and arrived in Pretoria about 5:00pm. We had arranged to stay at a guesthouse, the South African version of a B&B. It turned out to be a very nice place and we enjoyed the stay. It was the first time JT & DJ had the chance to stay in a place like that and I think we all had a great time.
After arriving Meredith, Drake, the boys, and I took some time to swim in the pool. Then I spent a couple hours working with JT on his interview - practicing with sample questions, helping refine some of his responses, and hopefully giving some input that would help during the whole process. The boys had a room adjoining ours, and when Amber woke up at about 2:00am, she could still hear them talking and practicing what he would say during the interview.
The next morning the boys & I were up and ready to go at 6:15, and after a quick breakfast we left for the University of Pretoria. Fortunately, before coming to Africa we were advised to get a GPS. It has been invaluable during our trips to fetch teams at the airport and do other business in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Traffic was heavy on the way, but we were able to make good enough time to get the boys there before the 8:00 deadline. JT was the only one invited to apply, but his cousin DJ went along for moral support and to help keep us informed throughout the day.
After dropping them off and making sure JT had all the preliminary things completed, I went back to pick up Amber and the kids at the guesthouse. We then spent the day at a local mall, burning some time until JT completed his tests and interview.
The bursary required applicants to submit their class results. JT is ranked #9 in the entire Free State, so his scores looked quite good. Because of his results he made the first cut and was invited to participate in the day of interviews and tests. The scholarship is offered by a company named SASOL, and we learned there were several different categories of invitations - Accounting, Engineering, Human Resources, etc... JT had been invited as a Chemical Engineering applicant. All students were required to interview with two managers in the chosen field, as well as a HR rep. In addition, each had to take three tests - English, Math, and Learning Potential.
At about 2:00 we arrived at the university, since I had used up my tolerance for malls after the first 30 minutes. We ended up waiting for another couple hours as he finished up the English test. Meredith & I took this chance to check the oil, water, air filter, and other vital organs of our car. When he finally finished he refused to tell us about it until he completed a last bit of paperwork. This took about an hour and a half.
Finally, on the way home JT filled us all in on the day. He at first acted very disappointed, but his cousin could tell he was just pulling our leg. We eventually figured out he was joking as well, and the two of them shared a pretty good laugh at our expense. JT felt that the interview went very well. He says the Math test seemed pretty easy, as did the Learning Potential test. He wasn't able to finish the English test on time, but from talking to several other students we gathered that most of them didn't finish it either. A lot of them didn't seem to have time to finish any of the tests.
We did receive some conflicting information regarding the odds involved. One story is that they had been holding interviews all week and over 2,000 young people had been invited, with 85 scholarships available. Another story said that in the Chemical Engineering division, 235 people had been invited and 1 in 3 of those would receive scholarships. Eight years ago the daughter of one of the teachers at the boy's school received this bursary. She has since been able to study at the University of Cape Town, apparently a well-known university worldwide. She has also studied in Germany, London, and the US as part of her training. JT said this would be a full ride scholarship, providing tuition, accommodation, and food funding. I asked how often you have to apply and he said once you get it you keep it, as long as your scores stay high enough.
Within the next several weeks they are supposed to hear back as to the results. We are praying that this enables JT to change his future and the future of his family. Clearly, God is in control and nothing will happen outside of His working. We discussed with the boys that God's way isn't always our way, so we leave things in His hands. Pray with us that whatever happens God would be honored.