In July this year I had the privilege of attending the Golden Key International Summit in Tucson, Arizona, thanks to the support of FedUni’s Golden Key Chapter, and Leadership and Volunteering. After arriving in Phoenix I explored the Grand Canyon, staring into the abyss to ground myself before arriving in Tucson for the Discover your Destiny: Adventure Awaits summit, held in a resort in the Sonora Desert, surrounded by the type of cactus you only ever see in movies, the saguaro.

The conference went for four days and included Golden Key members from America, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. After our first night International Meet and Greet mixer, we were given the opportunity to choose between a variety of workshops geared at personal or professional development, each supporting the three pillars of the Golden Key: Academics, Leadership and Service.

The most inspiring workshop I attended was a presentation by the Chapter President of the Nelson Mandela Metro University (NMMU) concerning student activism in South African universities. This workshop described the changes in students’ lives since the end of apartheid — how many of the changes these students’ own parents had fought for (such as affordable education), and also how much had been promised but never delivered — leading to a new era of activism, demanding ‘fees must fall’. During this workshop, the presenter described their Golden Key Chapter’s response to perceived social injustice as a having a positive impact within their University and their greater community.

NMMU Golden Key’s current project is a 17-foot tall pledge to “Choose to stand first with humanity before the pigment I call the colour of my skin”. This pledge, once filled, will be delivered by the Vice Chancellor of NMMU to the South African government as a request for action — a request for the government to show the supports they are providing to counter inequality and racism within South Africa, and the supports they will provide in the future.

Words by Lisa Swedosh