I remember the year 2018, starting a new school Newlands East Secondary, well known as NESS. I arrived at the gate which was wide open. There stood two security guards opposite each other, with school kids everywhere. Before I could pass, the security on the left shouted, “Where is your tie?” as if I had killed someone. I turned to look at him. All I could think to myself was, “Isicefe ekuseni kangaka.” I pulled down my comfortable, fresh blue jersey for him to see the tie.

As I passed my mind was filled with, “where to from here”. A few students were standing next to those long chairs, looking lost. I went to them and asked, “Morning guys, are you new here?”

Before I could I could finish my question they had already answered “Yes!” They followed with a whole lot of questions, “Where is the office, where is the tuckshop, which side is going to be our assembly?” They really thought I was in a higher grade. Well I struggled to cool them off, but I thanked God I was able. I explained I was also new here and I gave them hope that we would find our way. We are grown-ups moss!

We got along very well as we stood there for a whole 15 minutes. It felt long because we had conversations that didn’t last a minute. The group kept getting bigger until the bell rang loud enough for everyone to hear. We decided to follow other students to the assembly area. Luckily there was a teacher arranging lines from Grade 8 to 12, which was a relief. But I still hadn’t found my teacher. The assembly continued, there was a prayer, a few welcoming announcements, and we were told to go to classes. “That was fast,” I said to myself, I actually had expected to be told everything from the assembly.

I suddenly heard a small voice. “Follow me,” the teacher said to us. I turned and look at her. She was short, light-skinned. She was smart, I could tell by the way she was dressed – the two-piece suit and the clang of her high heels. Wow, I suddenly envy her, I said to myself. I followed in a fast moving line up the never-ending stairs. As we as we arrived in the classroom we seemed to find comfort amongst ourselves. Stories shared everywhere with the excitement of leaving primary school.

This is the day that forever lives in me – the experience that exposed me to new people. This was the year I stopped being shy.