Maxwell Thabiso Ntinga walks us through his experience of the 2018 Annual Event.

The Moshal Scholarship Program’s highly anticipated Annual Event finally arrived. Hundreds of Moshal Scholars and Alumni from all across the country embarked on a journey to Boksburg in Gauteng. The event was to be held at the Birchwood hotel and O.R Tambo Conference centre, where it’s been held for the last 4 years. Scholars arrived on planes and buses from various top universities in the country. Birchwood is located on the East Rand of Gauteng and is some 10km away from the O.R Tambo International Airport.

On arrival at the hotel, the scholars were warmly welcomed by the Moshal South African team, who did an incredible job, planning and executing everything to perfection to make sure the event was a huge success.

After being handed a well-designed puffer jackets, the scholars gathered at the O.R Tambo conference centre for an official welcoming. Kate Kuper, who is the program’s president, Jodi Bailey – the South African country manager, and Yael Lavie the program’s chairperson, all introduced themselves and the South African team and welcomed all the first years to the prestigious scholarship program.

Scholars then dispersed to different venues to attend their personalised training sessions, ranging from etiquette training to cultural diversity training, while senior medics had an afternoon out to the Rush trampoline park at Greenstone Mall.

Dinner was served in the form of ‘build a burger’ followed by fun activities around the Bonfire.

Saturday morning consisted of various indoor and outdoor exercises, from mindfulness to a soccer tournament. The top runners who participated in the 5km fun run were handed trophies and medals after completing the run in record time!

As a medic, I attended the medical panel which, to say the least was extraordinarily exciting. Guests of high caliber, with diverse specialties, were the highlight. Combined, they brought over 150 years of experience in the field of medicine. They shared their fascinating life stories, their trials and tribulations and how they managed to triumph time and time again over their obstacles. The panel gave a new perspective to the medics as there are many stereotypes within the various specialties. We got to hear from the horses’ mouths why they chose their respective fields of specialty, and what each day is like. Crucially they highlighted ways on how to deal with stress and burnout which is vital as lately the rate of suicide and depression among doctors has skyrocketed, with the extremely highly regarded Prof Bongani Mayosi of UCT being the latest victim.

Perhaps one of the best parts was when a specialist would grab the mic and start explaining why their specialty is the best. A surgeon started by saying “I am the captain of the ship, so of course I’m better than the anaesthetist”. The following anaesthetist said “Oh, but without me, the ship goes no nowhere. Surgeons have tried to give anaesthesia by themselves but all they accomplished doing so, was kill patients. So without me, there’s no operation”. But what sent the whole room into laughter was when a paediatrician stood up and said “I hear you all, but without me, there can be no adults”

A few medical interns were also part of the panel and gave their perspective on how to deal with the first year of work as a doctor. This was relatable and eased some of the final year medics’ fears.

The most awaited part of the weekend finally came – the Annual Awards Dinner.

Greeted by a stunning décor at the O.R Tambo Conference centre, all guests and scholars were seated by 6:30pm. The guests were served delicious and appetizing plated starters. We heard from Dibueng Bosman from UP, who shared her inspiring story about growing up, the challenges that she’s faced and how much the Moshal Scholarship Program has helped her realize her dreams.

Two international Moshal scholars, one from the Ukraine and the other from Israel were present. The Moshal scholarship also funds hundreds of students in Israel and another significant portion in the Ukraine. Hearing from the international students brings a new and much-needed perspective of what’s going on in other parts of the world. We also find comfort in knowing we are not alone in the battles we fight. Someone somewhere in the world might be going through the same challenges.

Our guest speaker was Mzamo Masito. Mzamo is the Google Africa Chief Marketing Officer. He has years of experience in the tech and business industry having worked for various companies in his career. Mzamo was an engaging, entertaining, inspiring speaker. He shared his life journey which most of the audience could find relatable. His story entailed growing up in a shack with his father leaving him and his mom at a young age.  As someone without a father myself, I could relate to the pain of being fatherless. Fortunately, although he lost a father, he gained a dad in the form of his stepfather who supported him through school and his journey. Mzamo’s mother at 30-plus years went back to school and completed her matric, proving that nothing is impossible if you have self-belief.

The moment to hear from the man himself – Dr Martin Moshal had arrived. He is no stranger to most of us, well except to first years, whom he welcomed into the program moments after stepping on the mic stand. Dr Moshal profoundly spoke about leadership, what leadership is, what makes a leader, how a leader carry themselves and so forth. Dr Moshal expressed that we are all leaders one way or another, whether we know it or not. In our communities, some of us are the first ones to enter tertiary education. The virtue of that makes us leaders to the younger generation who’ll look up to us and aim to emulate us.

Customary to the annual event, was the Saturday night Awards Dinner. The awards ceremony recognizes the individuals who’ve crossed to the other side, from being scholars to being part of the alumni. It also recognizes individuals who have excelled academically, and those who’ve carried the spirit of the Moshal program by paying it forward in various ways. After missing last year’s annual event, Yael Lavie, the Moshal Chairperson, returned this year and introduced the awards ceremony.

One of the highlights of the night was the university presentations. Every single performance was full of exuberance and liveliness. The universities stepped up their acts to give their best performances yet. This tradition of the university presentations should live on as long as the Moshal scholarship lives. The night was concluded with a photo booth outside the venue and a disco.

The South African Moshal Scholarship team did an exceptional job, putting in the hours, and certainly working overtime to ensure the annual event was fruitful for everyone and a resounding success.

By Maxwell Thabiso Ntinga (UKZN Scholar)