Port Elizabeth township kid aces US studies
A Joe Slovo teenager recently returned home briefly from the US where he has been studying at one of New York’s most prestigious private schools – and one-upping most of his American peers.
While doing so, Anele Tetyani, 13, is also enjoying teasing his classmates – telling one he had a pet lion at home.
Anele set out on a life-changing journey in October 2017, after being identified by Artworks for Youth founder John Lombardo for a 96% bursary from the Brooklyn Friends Private School for the $41,000 (about R583,000) annual school fees.
He returned home in August for “summer break” and will be heading back on September 1 to start grade 7 on September 6.
Speaking in the street outside his Joe Slovo township home on Wednesday, Anele said the school system in the US was worlds apart from his alma mater Joe Slovo Primary.
“It is completely different. I was actually a bit overwhelmed initially.
“I came from a school where the teachers spent more time on their cellphones than teaching,” Anele said.
“To be going to a school where each of us uses a laptop to take notes, I didn’t even know how to type when I got there. But the school has been very accommodating and the people are friendly and very helpful, so that made it easier.”
Despite completing more than half of his grade 6 South African school year, Anele repeated the grade in 2017 according to the US timetable, which starts in September.
“I am experiencing so many things which I would never have been exposed to, like skiing and archery. I even learnt some French.
“I’ve been on two camps in Connecticut and Maine, which are probably the most fun I have ever had.“Surprisingly, a girl in my class actually asked me if I own any wild animals.
“I told her I own a lion that my family was looking after while I study. She believed me.
“I kept her going for a while, but eventually I told her the truth.”
Lombardo said Anele was being hosted by a volunteer of his organisation, US citizen Elinor Hills, who had taken him in as her own.
“The plan was for him to only stay with the Hills family for a year, but within two weeks of Anele moving in they called to ask if he could stay with them until he completed his studies,” Lombardo said.
He said as much as Anele could have made a success of life no matter what school he attended, it was cheaper to send him to his American school due to the bursary.
Lombardo personally paid for Anele’s trip home, with his initial flight provided by another volunteer who donated her frequent flyer miles.
“Anele has adapted well to US schooling, so much so that in his last report he brought home nothing but As and Bs, beating the majority of the American pupils in his class,” Lombardo said.
“I have been working with schools in this township for over a decade and the simple fact is that in the US Anele has 18 pupils max in his class compared to the 50-something he had in Joe Slovo, which is just one element of the problem.
“It is just so sad that these kids have to go so far to receive a good education.
“A lot of people have a vested interest in Anele’s success. We are proud to say he is making the most the opportunity.”
Anele is following in the footsteps of his sister, Babalwa, 18, who completed her final school year at Greensboro Day School in North Carolina in 2017. She will now begin her studies at Sarah Laurence College in New York.
She also received a bursary four years ago to study in the US – facilitated through Lombardo’s intervention.