Dr. Wilhelm Verwoerd – A champion of Cross-cutting Compassion

Cover Picture credits: ALA Foto.

It will be hypocritical of me to fail to acknowledge the emotional weight that swept through the auditorium throughout the session of our first Distinguished Guest Speaker, Dr. Wilhelm Verwoerd. He flew all the way from Cape Town to share the very delicate story of reconciliation, painting some pictures of his own experience as the grandson of presumably the “architect of apartheid”. When confronted with the reality of what was going on in South Africa at that time, Dr. Verwoerd took the harder route of changing that discourse to create a new South Africa and in the process he worked closely with icons such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Today, Alaians Media is introducing an exciting addition to the menu; Reflections on Distinguished Guest Speaker, a series which echoes the lessons that distinguished guest speakers leave behind for the Academy. These, starting of with Dr. Wilhelm Verwoerd, will be resource for students and staff in the ALA network to reflect on as we all walk on the uncertain path of leadership.

Lessons from Dr. Wilhelm Verwoerd

  • A true education is one which exposes the realities of what is happening around us. It gives us the opportunity to unlearn dangerous perceptions we held about things and it enables us to learn how to move forward from these lies.
  • Dialogue and storytelling, when done well, have the power to build bridges across differences and to catalyse reconciliation.
  • The best approach to create an equal society in our countries is not always through the political arena. Sometimes it the bottom-up efforts whose grassroots emerge in the communities, from individual innovative efforts that drive change.
  • Healing takes time, it is dangerous to pretend that it is a once-off process. It is vital that we pay attention to the urgent wave of frustration and thirst that young people have for historical events that still continue to shape their lives and their opportunities.
  • We cannot choose how we are born and the situations which will come with who we are, and it is important to accept that we cannot change the past. However, we can choose to do something about it.

Do you feel moved? Watch out next week as we share the second episode of Reflections on Distinguished Guest Speaker, Jon Burdick.

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