440 days ago, Namibia confirmed its first Covid-19 positive case and since then, the land of the brave has been out of normalcy and desperate to smile again.
Despite this challenge, 22-year-old Ruth Harases has found one reason to put a smile on her face during the start of her academic journey with UNAM.
Hailing from the vibrant town where the sand meets the ocean, Swakopmund, Ruth Harases never imagined she would one day be the lucky winner of a competition, especially not one that would alter her academic calling for the better.
“One wonderful outcome of the virtual orientation was that I won a laptop. I have never in my life, ever, won anything, not even a simple pen or t-shirt. So, winning a laptop makes me truly happy and grateful” said Harases zealously.
She recalls being unsure about her chances of winning but instead of believing the worse, she affirmed herself that trying won’t hurt: “I just thought – you know what, let me just try this”.
“I attempted a few questions and to my surprise, they were all correct. My name was announced and shortly after I received a message in my inbox informing me that I qualified to be in the draw for the laptop” recalls Harases gleefully.
UNAM’s Assistant Dean for Professional Services, Mr Tangeni Velikoshi explained that the competition price was to solicit participation during the University’s first-ever virtual orientation, but also, “to reduce the financial burden of at least one student”.
He further emphasised that “A laptop is an important gadget aiding in successful online learning and it is our sincere hope that the winner uses this opportunity to maximize their academic journey” said Velikoshi. With the advent of online learning, most students found themselves in-between a rock and a hard place, trying to find solutions to their experiences, due to the digital gap.
Harases counts herself extremely fortunate because she, like many other students, didn’t have a laptop to participate in online learning, “Winning the laptop enables me to attend classes, complete my assignments and study” stated Harases.
Although the University of Namibia could only assist one student, Velikoshi implores other institutions to help with what they have, where they can. “We would like to take this opportunity to encourage and reach out to the public and private sector to seek sponsorships/donations that will aid in assisting our students in any way possible.”
“Alternatively students’ faced with academic challenges, should not suffer in silence, they need to contact the Office of the Dean of Students and together we will explore the best way to assist you in attaining/maintaining academic progress and success” emphasised Velikoshi
Other students managed to walk away with UNAM promotional goodies and a good sense of what the University of Namibia is all about.
First-year law student, Paulus Nangolo remarked that the orientation was an eye-opener filled with compassion. The programme was informative and helpful, especially to those of us who didn’t know much about the University. I was also lucky enough to walk away with a UNAM branded diary and t-shirt.
The University of Namibia’s first-ever virtual orientation under the theme ‘on your own, but not alone’ left students feeling the Office of the Dean of Students’ empathy through their efforts to make orientation worthwhile despite the challenge posed.