This year, UP’s Welcome Day takes place on 10 February. This marks the beginning of not only academics but also extracurricular activities. UP provides a wealth of different activities through its societies, which range from arts and culture, sport and socialising to community outreach and academics. These societies are clubs and communities of students who are united by a common purpose and the vision of that particular organisation. Are you interested in being part of a society? You probably have an idea of what societies you find intriguing. If not, try familiarising yourself with the different societies during the orientation period.
Onthatile Tuta, former head of community outreach for SheEmpowers encourages first year students to sign up for society memberships. Tuta says, “University can be overwhelmingly big, and experiencing a sense of community as you adjust from high school to tertiary [education] can be difficult. Societies offer students a sense of belonging; it means you will be around people who are like-minded and your adjustment will be less stressful. Your leadership skills will be improved too.” Tuta’s active involvement in SheEmpowers has allowed her to witness how societies can help craft students’ passions by allowing them to actively take part in what they love. Being surrounded by people with similar interests aids an individual’s adjustment to and enjoyment of their university career.
The establishment of societies is inspired by many different ideas and purposes. Some societies are established as an extension of an actual business, non-profit or organisation, such as Toastmasters International, which is a US-headquartered non-profit educational organisation. According to Alunga Madala, a former executive committee member, Toastmasters International operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping people develop their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. Madala explains, “It is a place where one can find one’s voice and acquire the professional skills to create the most value and realise one’s wildest dreams. […] Being a member of a society often has a long-term impact on the individual.” Another international organisation that connects students is Enactus. It accomplishes its mission to transform opportunities into real and sustainable projects through entrepreneurial-based projects. These projects help to solve problems experienced by a multitude of communities.
Societies allow students to acquire practical skills that can be incorporated in everyday life. Gift Netshivhazwaulu, former Enactus project leader, expands on this, indicating that he learnt Powerpoint skills in great detail. He also had the opportunity to be head of finance for a particular project, which positively impacted his knowledge on handling business finance. Societies are capable of imparting skills which can prove to be invaluable to students’ academic careers.
Student life can be overwhelming and one’s capacity as an individual is stretched due to many other added responsibilities. Netshivhazwaulu says, “Time management is a valuable skill, as I had to juggle handling a project but also making time for academics and other activities that I would partake in.” Societies can potentially prepare students for the workplace. Netshivhazwaulu mentions that some of the long-term benefits gained from his time at Enactus include the learning of business management skills and professional conduct.
What society are you interested to join? Visit the UP website for a comprehensive list of all the societies UP has to offer.