The students of the University of Pretoria attended the “Global Youth Leaders’ Summit 2020: Transforming Crisis into Re-connection. The hybrid summit took place during the weekend of the 24 and 25 October 2020 and was hosted by the Service-Learning and Leadership Office (SLLO) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The main aim of the Summit was to reflect on the impact of Covid-19 on social activities and share light on future plans regarding crisis management.
Professor Angelina Yeun-Tsang, Vice President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, facilitated the Summit. Two of the eight students representatives from the University of Pretoria who are from the Faculty of Engineering, Built environment and Information Technology (EBIT), (computer-engineering) were part of the winning team for the social distancing there:
Gerdus van der Laarse, a final year Electronic Engineering student, and Thabang Ngwenya, an Honours student in Industrial engineering, also presented their research findings. Gerdus’ topic was on how the elderly coped with COVID in South Africa and Thabang presented his research on students.
During his presentation, Gerdus van der Laarse mentioned that as part of the Global Youth Leaders’ Summit, a Global Reconnection Hackathon was organised where students from different universities gathered to brainstorm, design, and prototype solutions to address the theme of “Reconnection” under the context of COVID-19. Youth leaders from various disciplines and cultures, who dream and innovate, worked together to develop tangible technology-driven solutions. This hackathon lasted 24 hours (excluding preparation events), and the teams had to collaborate online simultaneously during this period. Seventy-seven students and alumni from 12 countries/regions were enrolled in 14 teams, of which 12 teams were mixed to include students from two universities”
The two non-profit organisations that work intensively with the University of Pretoria were amongst the invited partners; Mary Lant from Lesedi la Batho discusses the social impact during a time of crisis. Robynn-Ingle-Moller of Lory Park Zoo shared her experience in the Zoo during COVID-19 and the projects done by the students enrolled in the Community-based Project Module (code: JCP) of the EBIT Faculty. Dr Martina Jordaan who previously managed this module, through her involvement with the University's Social Responsibility Network was invited to coordinate participation from the University of Pretoria http://www.usrnetwork.org/
Paul Ssali, an alumnus and a mechanical engineer at Zutari, volunteered to mentor an international team and Altus Bisschoff, an alumnus and a mechanical engineer at Exxaro Resources, was one of the adjudicators.
The students of the University of Pretoria demonstrated commitment and creativity during the Summit and concluded that it was a positive learning experience and a wonderful opportunity to engage with fellow international students.
This is a link to the recording of the Summit: https://www.popcast.tv/gyls2020/web/index-live.php