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On 22 November 2013, 89 women and five men from southern Africa’s rural communities graduated in hospitality service operations at the SA College for Tourism. The five men were trained at the request of the Chemucane community in Mozambique, where an upmarket lodge is being established with funding from the World Bank and the Ford Foundation. Joining the hospitality service graduates, were 12 young tracker graduates who completed their year-long training at the SA College for Tourism Tracker Academy, where they mastered the age-old indigenous and traditional art of tracking animals in the wild.
The pre-graduation dinner and graduation ceremony were hosted by Mrs Gaynor Rupert, chairperson of the college. A number of international and local guests, friends and supporters of the College attended the proceedings. Among these were HRH Princess Irene of the Netherlands; the South African Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mrs Tokozile Xasa; Mr and Mrs De la Mare of Absa, largest corporate donor of the college; Mrs Irene Staehelin, world-renowned Swiss anthropologist and donor of the Tracker Academy; Mrs Marian van der Merwe and her son, Albert, representing the Koos and Rona Rupert EducationTrust; Mr Jurie Erwee, CEO of MARSH Africa; Mrs Wendy Appelbaum; Mr Stephen Falcke; Mrs Barbara Pudel of Switzerland; Mrs Sarah Tompkins, owner of Samara Private Game Reserve that houses one of the Tracker Academy campuses; Sir David Davies from the UK; Mr Jeremy and Mrs Britta Lloyd, also from the UK; British media personalities, Mrs Elizabeth Rees-Jones and Mr Ivan Fallon; Mr John and Mrs Gill van Rooyen of Tsogo Sun, Mr Glenn and Mrs Inna van Heerden of the Thornybush Collection, joined by Thornybush’s Executive Director, Nic Griffin; and Mr Jürg Steinacher and Mr Leslie Rusch from Switzerland.
In her welcoming remarks Mrs Rupert also paid tribute to members of the college donor community not present, among them the National Lottery Board of South Africa, the Swedish Postcode Lottery, Rupert Nature Foundation, Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, Remgro, Jagersfontein Development, the National Heritage Council, Empowers Africa (USA), Mr Hansjürg and Mrs Francesca Saager, Mr Guillaume and Mrs Catherine Pictet, Mr Julian Ogilvie Thompson and Lloyds Travel.
Guest speaker of the day was Ms Unathi Msengana, a South African singer, actress and radio personality best known for hosting shows on youth station YFM and as judge on the M-Net Idols competition. She also handed certificates to the graduates, who were capped by Deputy Minister Xasa.
The Top Hospitality Student of the Year, Ms Luciz Hararwa of Malawi, was announced by Mr Andy de la Mare of Absa. Luciz was joined at the podium by her runner-up, Ms Memory Danster of Namibia and by Mrs Barbara Pudel, who invited them to an all-expenses-paid working visit of four months at her guesthouse in Portofino, Italy in 2014.
Mr Glenn van Heerden announced the Top Culinary Art Student of the Year, Ms Janice Bruiners, who was awarded the Thornybush Collections Trophy, a cheque of R5 000 and a year-long internship with the Thornybush Collections executive chef.
Mrs Marian van der Merwe handed the Londolozi and Samara game reserves’ top tracker students of the year trophies to two South Africans, Mr Velenkosi Tembe from northern KwaZulu-Natal and Mr Norman Chauke from Makuleke in Limpopo. The trophies were accompanied by cash prizes of R2 000 each, sponsored by Eugen and Sal Roux of KwaZulu-Natal.
Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation brought the day’s proceedings to a close by handing the Peacemaker of the Year Award to Ms Julia Nyamate from Jagersfontein in the Free State province of South Africa. The prize is one of a limited number of copies of Sir Harold Riley’s pen sketch of Dr Nelson Mandela that he donated to the college.
Copies of the book, Moments of Truth, written by Mr Jan Carlzon about his years as CEO of Scandinavian Airlines and donated by the author and his wife, Susanne, to each member of the graduating Class of 2013 were collected by the graduates as they left the graduation hall, singing.
Peace Parks Foundation proudly supports the SA College for Tourism. The college was established in 2001 by the late Dr Anton Rupert, then chairman of Peace Parks Foundation. A new memorandum of understanding, which formalises the relationship between the two institutions over a wide range of college management spheres, was signed in 2012.