My Roedean Story – Abrafi Akosah-Bempah

Posted: January 16, 2019

I have always been excited by newness and change. In January 2006, in Accra, Ghana, my parents told me and my siblings that we would be relocating to South Africa. With a book in hand and just the clothes on my back, I was ready to leave immediately. However, I did wait two weeks to allow the other members of the family to get their house in order. On the day of our planned departure, my parents were thinking of postponing our leaving in order to prepare more sufficiently. I was indignant! There was no way the realities of the adult world and delayed gratification would keep me from my new adventure. So I raved and raged until my parents agreed to leave that evening, as planned.

By December ,2013, a lot had changed. I was a 13-year-old in Johannesburg, leaving the very familiar space of primary school. I had attended a co-ed school for all my life, but my parents had insisted I transfer to Roedean School. I raged and raved as I had done 7 years before, but that no longer worked. By January,2014, tail between my legs, I was ushered through the gates of Roedean. Grade 8 was tough, and my resistance to my new reality did not make it any easier.

By the beginning of Grade 9, I had not just accepted my new reality, but I was ready to embrace it. I started to participate in the innumerable co-curricular activities offered at Roedean and I was embarrassed to have resisted the privilege my parents had granted me. I tried and failed at numerous activities, but settled on the few I found most challenging and interesting, Model United Nations (MUN) Debating, SACEE Debating, and Netball. It was a finally relieved to find my place at Roedean.

However, this proved to be a short respite, before I was thrown another challenge: Grade 10 was swiftly approaching and I was not prepared. I chose to do 9 subjects, more out of improvisation than a wish to go above and beyond: I was caught off-guard, while I was waiting for the day my subject choices would magically come to me, the deadline for my decision was steadily approaching. So, in Grade 10 I was doing 9 subjects, a list I never managed to narrow down, but one that actually grew. In Grade 11, I added AP English to the list. However, not in spite of, but because of, my subject choice and the opportunity to go on exchange to Germany, Grade 10 was a magical year. In grade 11, my schoolwork, along with my co-curricular activities became overwhelming, and I decided to stop playing netball. It was a hard decision, but one that made all the difference.

With Matric came leadership roles, portfolio tasks, and numerous naps. (And I was finally at the age at which I could gratuitously hand out pieces of advice to younger students, whether wanted or not.) Serving the student body on the SRC was difficult and rewarding in equal parts. It was one of the most valuable learning experiences I was afforded during my schooling career. Moreover, the connections I made with other students – frustratingly – blossomed and intensified just as I prepared to leave school. Matric was all I expected it to be and more.

Today, I am leaving the very familiar world of high school, and, naturally, when I think about it, I can feel the dread and panic building up, but the feeling is tinged with excitement. I have tried not to let the fear of the unknown paralyse me, so when I feel it rise, I think of myself as the oblivious, innocent, and stubborn 6 -year-old girl who was always ready to explore the unfamiliar.

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Since 2009, Thinking Skill have been an integral part of the curriculum, preparing pupils for the challenges of higher education and life itself. We strive to prepare our girls to lead ‘life of significance’ in a world of exponential change. Roedean is the only school in SA to be accredited as a Thinking School from Grades 0-12.