The ‘born free’ generation as it has been dubbed, is the generation of young people born into a democratic South Africa. As first-time voters in 2014, many of these young people are facing choices and circumstances that are significantly different to that of their parents.

The American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ) hosted an event run by young people, for young people on the 28 – 30 March 2014. The purpose of the event was to introduce the born free generation to the idea of not only realising the opportunities that are available to them, but also for them to be able to create employment for themselves and for those in the communities around them.

Three students from Monash South Africa were invited by the South African Service Summit for Youth (SASSY) to be guest speakers at the event. The event was organised and facilitated by the youth organisation of AISJ. With no grown-up in sight, the event brought together young people from all across Gauteng.

21-year old International Studies student, Thembile Ndlovu, opened up the conference by urging the youth to take control of their futures: “We need to emancipate our minds and not see ourselves as the lost generation, but take control. We are still living in a society where we are plagued by the remnants of apartheid. We need to pick ourselves up, have ownership and move on”.

Closing off the event, Geography and Environmental Science student, Francisca Nkhabu, also 21, echoed Thembile’s words with a passionate plea to her peers to be proactive in their communities in order to help drive change.

Personal and individualised development is one of the key strengths of Monash South Africa which has, over ten years, seen 10 Mandela Rhodes scholars and several youth leaders as well. “Monash South Africa believes education goes beyond the classroom and works to shape the lives of others. Our students are able to participate and compete at every level, from grassroots community work through to speaking on international stages,” said head of the Community Engagement, Craig Rowe.