by Sheetal Makhan / Academic Year Coordinator
At EC Cape Town, we enjoy celebrating special milestones and this week we place the spotlight on Rifqah Brenner, who celebrates her six year anniversary with the school.
We understand that whether one of our EC English students spends one week or one year with us, our priority is to ensure that they are happy and comfortable. One of the most important factors that determines this is their accommodation in Cape Town and this is where Rifqah plays a big role.
She describes her first interview as “grueling and knee-shaking” and admits that she had no idea that the TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) industry was as established as it is. She started off holding two positions at EC English Language School in South Africa – as the receptionist and the Accommodation Officer for about three years.
What was it about the position that initially attracted her?
“I have a passion for history. I always wanted to become an historian because I’m really interested in different cultures,” she says.
Because of the background information and special requirements that is received before the student even arrives in the country, Rifqah feels like she already knows the person when they arrive at school on their first day.
Rifqah was the first from EC Cape Town to partake in the “Take Off” program – an initiative which equipped her with the right tools to do a better job. The program aims to train young managers to be part of the succession plan for the company as a whole. Her time with the English school has also allowed her to grow and develop beyond her job description. She is now the Center Exam Manager for the IELTS monthly exam (EC Cape Town is the official testing center in the city).
She recalls an outrageous request from a student who was very particular about what he wanted – “a white Anglo-Saxon South African with no pets, but has a swimming pool.”
Drawing on this account, Rifqah says that the biggest challenge that students face is culture shock. Because of the diversity of South Africa, many of our host families are predominantly of Muslim faith. For many students who stay in areas like Bo Kaap, the azan (the Muslim call to ritual prayer at the mosque) can be construed as disturbing or unusual. Something else that the students usually need to get used to is the spiciness of the food that many cultures in South Africa enjoy.
Being in the environment of an language institution, Rifqah sees it as an opportunity to expand her own horizons and tells us that she is currently learning French!
“I wake up in the morning wanting to be here!” she exclaims.
She credits her motivation to her colleagues and says, “The people I work with are truly magnificent in their own way. Each one brings something unique to the team.”
Is there one person in particular she considers her mentor? Without hesitation, she replies, “Zubeida [Registrar]…I’ve learnt a lot from her in my six years here.”
EC Cape Town is truly comprised of a wonderful team and I speak for everyone when I say “Thank you & Congratulations, Rifqah on your six years with the school.”
Find out more about Accommodation in Cape Town.